The Victoria & Albert museum came into hot water over Mrs T. The museum’s refusal of Margaret Thatcher’s wardrobe, soon to be sold at auction by her children, garnered huge criticism in the media. As the storm reached its peek, Sky News had me appear on the Adam Boulton show to explain why they should have taken these iconic pieces.
Beyond what I was able to say on air, the V&A should re-align its collecting to include pieces of cultural significance as well as their current policy of technical, artistic and social quality (the exclusions of which were their grounds for Maggie’s rejection). I would love to see us compete with the Met in NYC, championing not only our abilities as a nation to make beautiful clothes, but also to recognise the international impact of our style. Blockbuster sell-out exhibitions at the V&A prove there is appetite for it, and there is a strong case that the V&A should step up to the plate as our national museum and not leave this crucial part of collecting our history to regional museums, even if the Museum of London do it so well.
Collecting should be objective, and not tainted with political malice. Everything of historic interest should be, if possible, safeguarded for the nation. In this case, that would mean collecting Michael Foot’s Donkey Jacket as well as Jonny Rotten’s punk vests, Tony Blair’s pin up girl Paul Smith shirt sleeves alongside a Tommy Nutter Beatles suit – cultural benchmarks are slipping through the cracks of the Bond Street salerooms into private collections round the world, never to be seen again. It shouldn’t be happening. Curators in 100 years time will curse these very poor 21st century curatorial decisions.
Though when it comes to David Cameron’s fashion legacy, I’m sure the nation will live without his Boden deck shoes.