The Times - Anna Murphy

Robes that make a splash

A second famous early adopter of athleisure was the young David Hockney, although his default was a stripy rugby shirt. He is the subject of another exhibition, this time at Tate Britain (until May 29).

Hockney has always been a natty dresser, and one with a sense of humour. When he collected a gold medal from the Royal College in 1962 he wore a gold suit. He knew that clothes were important, not just as a form of self-expression, but as a kind of personal brand building. The exhibition’s Model with Unfinished Self Portrait (1977) depicts a man who, in bright rugby shirt and heavy-framed owl glasses, is definitely dressing to stand out.

There are no rugby shirts on sale in the pop-up Hockney shop at the Tate, but there are some lovely travel dressing gowns by the specialist brand Robe de Voyage. In blue cotton, patterned with watery white skeins that evoke the Californian swimming pools of the artist’s most famous work, they are beautiful to behold. Better still, they are practical, designed to fold up small in your suitcase, so you shouldn’t end up at your parents’ house wearing a bald towelling BHS disgrace that was bought for you in your mid-teens. (Am I oversharing?)

The cotton gown is £250 and, along with a blue-on-white wool scarf version, £170, is available in Tate shops and online at (the scarf from March 1). There is also a stunning silk gown — be still my beating heart! — available online only for £415.

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Robe de Voyage’s travel dressing gowns are on sale in the Tate’s pop-up David Hockney shop