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27 March 2017
The Museum of London has recently acquired 100 items of clothing and accessories worn by Francis Golding, a former secretary of the Royal Fine Art Commission and an influential townscape consultant widely credited with influencing the look of London in the late 20th and early 21st century.
Following Golding’s untimely death from a cycling accident on 5 November 2013, the Museum of London was invited to his Georgian townhouse in Islington to assess his clothing collection for acquisition. The museum carefully selected 13 ensembles and 34 individual items from key moments in Golding’s life, from the mid-1960s when he first moved to London, to items worn shortly before his death.
The epitome of a modern man’s wardrobe, the items acquired include 23 London labels, 14 of which were not previously represented in the Museum of London, such as Barbour, Voyage and Oliver Spencer. This incredibly significant collection reflects Golding’s passion for menswear and British fashion houses, and is one of the largest collections of menswear worn by a single person held by a museum.
Francis Golding lived and worked in London during some of the most exciting and transitional periods in the capital’s recent history, from the post-war and swinging 60s to the Thatcher and the present day. His style evolution is strikingly reflective of London’s changing identity through these times, from the dandy period of his younger days, to his mostly London-made wardrobe during the 80s and 90s and sharp London tailoring of the 21st century.
12 items from this new collection will be on show from 31 March – 25 May 2017 in Francis Golding: A Sartorial Biography, which briefly follows the chronology of his changing look.
Golding arrived in London in 1967, beginning his career as a young civil servant shaping architecture in the city against a backdrop of a creative boom in music, theatre, and fashion, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Golding started his collection of London-based contemporary designers, which include pieces from Thea Porter’s boutique in Soho, Junk City vintage shop in King’s Road, and Liberty department store in Carnaby Street. He balanced a conservative look in the day with the trendy “dandy” look of his off-time, which allowed him to explore his identity more freely. Key pieces—on display for this exhibition—from these early years in London include a pair of Foster & Son leather boots, a colourful Thea Porter tie, and a smart brown leather bag, which he used during his time in the civil service.
Golding assisted in the development of English Heritage in the early 1980s and became staff in 1984, revealing his passion for historic English buildings. His interest for heritage was reflected in his choice of wearing many London-made garments during this period. One such item, worn by generations of the Golding family, including Francis, is a c.1910 trench coat from British luxury fashion brand Aquascutum, which created and patented the first waterproof wool. Golding was interested in the legacy of the Aquascutum brand, and other British heritage brands such as Barbour, as well as the practical use of this jacket during his research trips through the English countryside.
Known for his deep respect of both historic buildings and the functional need for a modern London cityscape, Francis Golding became an architectural consultant on City developments such as the Gherkin, the Walkie-Talkie and One New Change at the turn of the 21st century. In his personal life, the Civil Partnership Act of 2004 led to his union with his partner of many years, Satish Padiyar, in 2006. His matured style and continued commitment to London designers is reflected in his civil partnership ensemble on display, featuring a Jasper Conran shirt and a Timothy Everest tie. This is the first civil partnership ceremony ensemble collected by the Museum of London.
Timothy Long, curator of fashion & decorative arts at the Museum of London, said:
“In addition to an impressive collection of menswear, Francis also collected small mementoes, for example theatre or train tickets or other receipts, of his travel, work, and leisure time, which he left in the pockets of many of the collected items. This additional documentation helps us to tell the biography of a Londoner through his clothing - from weekdays in formal attire, evenings in the theatre district, weekends hunting for the perfect ensemble in Camden, to researching architecture in the English countryside, Francis understood that every aspect of his life was worth documenting and preserving. It is through the prism of this collection, that we can catch a glimpse of not only how Francis Golding was impacted by a life spent in London, but how he came to shape the face of the modern capital itself.”
For further information, please visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
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