Photography by Mr AJ Numan | Styling by Mr Toby Grimditch
Words by Mr Benjamin Seidler
Sitting in his office overlooking the grand 19th-century courtyard of London's legendary Victoria and Albert Museum, Mr Whitmore has a crystal-clear idea of what the establishment's prerogative is. "The V&A isn't an art museum, it's a design museum," he explains. "We are interested in how things are made and in the stories around objects. What the V&A is riding at the moment is an interest in craft. There's a humanity to it."
A veteran of London's Design Museum and one of the forces behind the creation of Tate Modern in the 1990s, Mr Whitmore joined London's Victoria and Albert Museum in 2001. He is now its director of programming, helping to conceive and construct inspiring blockbuster exhibitions from a Versace retrospective to an overview of the Bauhaus. Here, he talks to us about style, age and creativity.
How would you describe your style?
I have a look that revolves around well-fitting clothes. So I always wear slim shirts, narrow ties and fitted sweaters. I don't think I look corporate, but creative. Although if I work at night I love to wear a nice suit, usually by Paul Smith as his clothes fit me well.
What would you say are the five key pieces in a man's wardrobe?
A simple white vest, a grey or blue fitted T-shirt, a sexy pair of narrow-cut trousers and a great pair of brogues. I also like a fitted tailored tweed jacket, which I wear to work with navy trousers or with tracksuit bottoms on the weekend as I like to mix formal and casual.
What's your favourite piece of clothing?
I have a beautiful checked bomber jacket that I wore all summer. Again, I bought it at Paul Smith and it fitted perfectly and was beautifully lightweight. Wherever I went, whether Paris, New York or Mexico, I would always get comments on it and I wore it both casually and smartly. I don't think I will ever wear it again because it is so caught up in this last intense summer for me. It would be like wearing a ghost.
What are you planning to buy for your wardrobe in the near future?
I would really like a navy blue, dark grey or maybe even a maroon rollneck sweater. I think it would look great under a corduroy blazer. I'd also like some shirts to wear for Christmas parties, maybe in darker colours.
How has your style changed as you've grown older?
Being 50 is interesting, because there aren't many role models when it comes to how to be that age. When my father was 50, it seemed older than it does now. I don't feel old, though I don't feel young any more either. I still have energy and want to dress in a contemporary way, but there are certain things you can't wear anymore, such as Speedos. I think you have to go for tailoring. Start with your body, go to the gym a lot and then find clothes that fit.
What are you most looking forward to in the V&A programme?
Power of Making and Postmodernism are both wonderful shows that are on now. From January to August we will have a whole season dedicated to British design from 1948 onwards. The V&A is going British in celebration of the Olympics next year.
OR TRY THESE...
- Slim Fit Stretch Jersey Suit Jacket
by Jil Sander
- Corduroy Blazer with Elbow Patches
by Gant Rugger
- Deconstructed Double-Breasted Blazer
by Viktor & Rolf
- Unstructured Wool Blazer
by Margaret Howell
- Double-Breasted Blazer