Debbie Harry Explains Her Life in T-Shirts

By

For a recent exhibition celebrating 40 years of Blondie at the Chelsea Hotel Storefront Gallery, selections from Debbie Harry’s T-shirt trove, many featuring her portrait, were displayed alongside photos and band ephemera. “They’re memories,” says Harry of her well-worn shirts, “and I’ve been saving them for a long time.”

1. “This is probably one of our merch shirts. I see Blondie knockoffs sometimes. We’ve had to chase bootleggers down and say, ‘Let’s do business or get out of business.’ ”

2. “This is from the late ’70s, early ’80s. I don’t know who did it, but it’s Warhol’s colors. Andy went out every night. If I had this on and saw him, I would’ve asked him to sign it.”

3. “We did our first real U.S. tour with Iggy. David Bowie played keyboards. When we share a bill with a band, we swap shirts. This one’s kind of rotted.”

4. “ ‘Call Me’ is a single we did with Giorgio Moroder in 1980. When you’re young and don’t have dough, you find shirts secondhand. I wish I’d saved more of them, but they melt away.”

5. “Blondie shirts are really up to my or the band’s approval. A lot of ideas come our way. This is a remake of old artwork related to ‘Cautious Lip,’ from our second album.”

6. “That’s Keith Haring. I saw it and said, ‘I’ve got to have that.’ I don’t know what he meant by it. We had mutual friends, but we weren’t buddy-buddy.”

7. “This design is from the ’70s. The original was found in a sporting-goods shop. We never knew what kind of team it was. It’s one of the first shirts
I was photographed in. I wore it for shows.”

8. “This is a redo of a very old shirt that our first manager came up with. There was confusion about Blondie. Since I was blonde, it sort of had to be stated that we were a group.”

9. “If I was in Houston or Dallas I was going around to junk stores and found a Texas shirt. I can’t swear I did it, but it would’ve been cool to have worn a Texas shirt for a Texas show.”

10. “The cartoon characters were done by a superfan from the beginning named Rob Anderson. Rob’s been drawing caricatures of me for over 25 years. It’s very sweet.”

*This article appears in the October 6, 2014 issue of New York Magazine