Margaret Thatcher kept a clothing diary in her latter years as prime minister and named many of her outfits after Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev and some after BBC broadcaster Terry Wogan, newly-released documents show.
She apparently began to keep a note of what she wore in 1988, and diary entries for 1990 record that she wore her “Pink Chanel Gorbachev” to Coronation Street and her “Wogan Burgundy” to the Bank of England.
Wogan, who interviewed Mrs Thatcher in January 1990, appeared to have several outfits named after him including a “Wogan Long” and a “Wogan Short”, though these may have been variations on a single outfit.
Soviet politician Mr Gorbachev had the most outfits named after him, followed by US President Ronald Reagan.
“It’s interesting that so many were named for their association with Gorbachev,” said Chris Collins, from the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust. “She really was showing off on her Soviet trips – glamour was part of her approach to ending the Cold War.
“Reagan was second in the naming stakes, while (US President George HW) Bush, (Chancellor of Germany Helmut) Kohl and (French President Francois) Mitterrand predictably got nothing at all.”
In one 1990 diary entry, Mrs Thatcher is recorded as wearing her “Black Dull Suit” to meet President Bush.
When the prime minister formally tendered her resignation to the Queen on November 28 1990, her clothing diary states she wore her “Burgundy New York W Velvet Collar”.
Mr Collins said he believes Mrs Thatcher’s first clothing diary was in 1988 and she “cranks up her whole clothing operation after the visit to Moscow in 1987”, on her historic tour of the Soviet Union.
“She’s suddenly, I think, aware of the power of clothes,” he said. “She was interested before and very keen on things like British Fashion Week.
“She begins then to see that this is actual serious politics and she’s got more clothes and she’s monitoring what she’s doing with them.
“It comes together.”
He described it as the “new regime” of Mrs Thatcher’s “dress adviser”, Margaret King, who was also a director of the British fashion house Aquascutum.
“Possibly Margaret King said to her … ‘You should keep a proper note of what you wore and then we can juggle it around and shift this and that’,” he said.
He continued: “It’s interesting that she chooses to name things after (Terry Wogan) but, for example, she chose to name a dress when she met President Mitterand at Waddesdon Park in May in 1990 but she named it Waddesdon.
“Only certain men got the accolade of having a dress named after them.”
He said clothes were a “great joy” for the prime minister.
“She had them very carefully looked after and, in fact, in her office there was a huge room where her driver sat – this is after leaving Number 10,” he said.
“It was a very big room and it was full of clothing lines and all of the clothes had their own zipped-up bags with the names on.
“There were maybe 200.
“Huge numbers of these clothes, vast numbers, and she knew every one, no question.
“They were lovingly looked after and they were a great joy to her. I mean, she loved clothes, they were a real pleasure in her day.”