The National Portrait Gallery opted for no dress code at its glamorous reopening party last night. Rocker Courtney Love got behind the decks to lead singalongs to The Smiths, aided by fellow DJ Princess Julia.
The result of the relaxed atmosphere? Matt Hancock turning up in an untucked shirt and trainers. “I basically think only school teachers and politicians wear suits,” he said, telling us he’d changed out of a suit that he’d been wearing earlier. Was he going for a “centrist dad” look? “Is that my vibe? I take it as a compliment.”
Matt’s casual wardrobe gets lots of comments in Westminster, he says. “Honestly, about five times a day when I’m in Parliament an MP will come up to me and say, ‘You’re under-dressed’, and I say, ‘I’m just dressed like my constituents’.”
Artist Grayson Perry and activist Malala Yousafzai were among those perusing four floors of the revamped gallery, including a new Blavatnik wing. Several bars were sampled, each serving a different cocktail. Stars included Tracey Emin, who designed the new doors.
The walls feature 48 per cent woman sitters. We overheard some partygoers gazing at a prominent 2010 painting of Anna Wintour by Alex Katz, saying it shows a little-seen “innocent” side to the Vogue editor.
Time-share at the theatre?
Speculation is rife over the next National Theatre boss (Rupert Goold, Sam Mendes?), but the newly posted job advert suggests it isn’t looking for an auteur. “In the past, this has been one person. We are now in a different world,” it reads. The theatre is now “open to different models of directorship”. Will the National end up with job-sharing leaders, just like the Green Party?
Mordaunt’s mordant wit
Penny Mordaunt was on spiky form in an address to political journalists on the House of Commons terrace last night. Mordaunt joked that she isn’t known for long speeches, only long pauses while carrying sharp objects, referring to her star turn at the Coronation, above. She took swipes at Liz Truss for ducking interviews, and mocked Rishi Sunak for his obsession with his five pledges, before noting that the busy past few years have been so “tough” for the media that some are trying to become Tory candidates, referring to former Financial Times hack Sebastian Payne. “Bless you,” she said, with pity.
The man who sold the news
Press baron Rupert Murdoch is in London for his annual summer party in St James tomorrow, where politicos line up to meet him. This year will be intriguing. Talk is that Murdoch may buy the influential Spectator magazine, after the current owners were forced to sell up. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer’s Labour are hoping for good coverage in the Murdoch press: will senior figures attend?