A wee twist on the classic Scottish pud to celebrate Burns Night.
An outfit idea for Hogmanay, with a few favourite purchases from 2013.
A special wee Scottish-themed baking post for St. Andrew’s Day weekend.
Maybe it’s my current ex-pat status that’s encouraged a new level of sartorial patriotism, but my love of all things Scottish shows no sign of waning. Thinking about it though, I’ve always appreciated tartan, tweed and a good knit, so I don’t think I’m venturing into self-parody territory quite yet.
Luckily for me, fashion seems to be having a love affair with Alba at the moment: from the Chanel Métiers d’Art collection last December, a beautiful homage to Coco’s love of Scotland and our country’s part in the history of the fashion house, to our rising design stars, lead by the inimitable Christopher Kane, now supported by fashion giant PPR. Our heritage and our home grown talent have captured the imagination of the fashion world; with a plethora of design talent hailing from North of the border – see Hayley Scanlan, Catriona MacAllister, Hilary Grant, Jane Gowans (more on Jane v soon) – and a growing interest in all things ‘Made in Britain’ including Scotland’s fantastic textiles industry, I can only hope this is set to continue.
Caledonia’s influence can be seen on the catwalk too. Skirts are big news for autumn/winter 13 (literally – ’50s style full skirts were all over the catwalks) and one of the key styles was the mini kilt. Banish all thoughts of tacky souvenir shops, the humble kilt has had a rather stylish makeover. Mini kilts were given a youthful, urban spin and along with tartan, zips, chunky boots and a palette of red, white and black, formed a motif of punk references at London Fashion Week. London is the home of punk after all, and with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art launching a major punk retrospective this May, I think this trend will be sticking around for a while.
Kilts on the catwalks were punky but pretty – Clements Ribiero gave punk a modern, feminine twist (see my show report here) and at Christopher Kane it was all about the detail: feathered edging and patent buckles gave sharply cut mini kilts a luxurious edge. And it wasn’t just in London – in Milan, Marni showcased deconstructed warrior-style kilts; in New York, Kenzo’s preppy-cool collection featured kilt skirts; and in Paris there were knee-length patent-trim kilts at Vanessa Bruno. A spectrum of styles, from ’90s grunge styles to elegant, ladylike cuts showed the versatility and serious fashion credentials of the kilt.
Luckily for me, the high street has got on board with this trend pretty quickly. I spied this grey tweed mini kilt in Topshop shortly before Christmas and was itching to get my mitts on it, but it was a little on the pricey side for a recent grad, so it sat in my basket for a wee while. My patience paid off as I managed to snap it up in the January sale at half price! The cut is quite boxy, and the sumptuous tweed and sharp pleats make for a softly tailored look. It’s not heavy or itchy like a ‘real’ kilt (having worn a kilt to school for around thirteen years of my life, I know what that’s like!), rather a fashionable spin on a traditional style.
For its first outing a few weeks ago, I paired my Topshop kilt with a soft burgundy jumper from Acne (a very generous gift that feels like wearing a hug). I loved the colours together and thought the slightly oversized boyfriend style contrasted well with the tailored kilt. How would you style it?
I wore this outfit for a trip to the Royal Academy of Arts to visit the ‘Constable Gainsborough Turner and the Making of Landscape’ exhibition, which I’d seriously recommend. This was followed by a mosey around Fortnum & Mason, smelling tea and gawping at the exotic produce, and beautiful historic booksellers Hatchards, both on London’s Piccadilly. We finished our afternoon with ryebread sandwiches and pastries at the Nordic Bakery in Soho’s Golden Square. I’m a big fan of the Scandinavian cafés that have popped up around London, and this is definitely the best I’ve been to. My advice – leave room for pudding! The perfect end to a perfect London day.
With a healthy whack of designers and manufacturers originating in Scotland, as well as many finding inspiration there, the spotlight is firmly on Alba and all it can offer the world of fashion.
The recent acquisition by fashion behemoth PPR of a 51% stake in Christopher Kane showed that Scottish designers are gaining real currency. Regular readers will know I’m a real champion of Scottish design talent and love to share the work and achievements of emerging designers from North of the Border.
One such design talent is Catriona Clark, of womenswear label Catriona MacAllister. The Scottish Fashion Award-nominated designer clearly has a passion for her craft and breathes fresh life into the industry. I predict big things for the innovative young designer, who has already achieved so much. And she’s living proof that there are lovely people in fashion that can make things happen.
Catriona very kindly answered some questions for me that I thought I would share with you – hope you enjoy the Q&A! To start with, here’s some shots from her beautiful graduate collection, ‘Archaic Light’, shot by Christopher Heaney:
Have you always wanted to be a designer? Where does this interest come from?
My family has always been artistic as both my parents were art teachers – my mum also has a strong interest in patchwork quilting and also runs her own business teaching others. My grandmother used to do millinery too, so I guess that I knew from an early age I was going to embark with a creative career and over the years it developed into fashion.
Where did you learn your craft?
I have a BA in Fashion Design for Industry from Heriot-Watt University, School of Textiles and Design. Growing up, I had been sewing for many years and as a child my mum taught me patchwork quilting and how to make some of my own clothes.
What inspires your designs?
I take inspiration from pretty much anywhere. I really just let my mind wander as it’s usually the ideas that I stumble upon that have the biggest impact on me, rather than ones that I think through too much. Although, I have found that I draw a lot of inspiration from architecture and always end up referring back to it in some way or another.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Within my collections I focus on strong tailoring and an elegant silhouette that highlights intricate detailing using laser cutting, embroidery and digital printing.
Is your heritage important to you? Does it come into your work at all?
My heritage is very important to me and I would like to be able to represent this to an international audience. It does inspire my work but it will vary from season to season as to what I have been focused on researching. For my current spring/ summer13 collection I would say that it has subtly inspired my work through the traditional architecture.
Do you feel under pressure as a designer to conform to certain trends?
Understanding trends and the importance of them is good for me as a designer; however I feel it is my job to contribute to creating trends also. I try not to think about if my work fits with the current trends but rather concentrate on how I can best represent my ideas through a cohesive, well constructed collection for the customer.
Do other designers inspire you?
Yes of course! But they also encourage me too which I feel more important, as starting up on your own is difficult and you spend a lot of time on your own, you need to in order to get so much of the work completed on time. So if you are going through a difficult stage with the label, knowing that other designers have been through the same thing and are now doing incredibly well just helps to keep you going.
Tell me about your spring/summer 2013 collection.
This collection is titled “Archaic Light” as a lot of my inspiration came from architecture, in particular cathedrals and churches. Some of my favourite images of these types of buildings are all the old derelict ones that are in ruins. I took a lot of my initial inspiration from Elgin Cathedral not far from my home in Scotland. It’s a beautiful building and you can still see a lot of the hand carved decoration in the stones. I can only imagine what it would have looked like before it fell into ruins.
As so much of the photography I was looking at was in black and white that led to the colour palette consisting mainly of whites and pale greys. Much of the detail in the collection came from the decoration of the interiors and in particular the stain glass windows. Inspiration for this was taken from the “Sagrada de la Familia” by Gaudi in Barcelona. This was then developed into laser cutting and embroidery seen throughout the collection.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
I like to work with a variety of materials in my collections, and always try to use something I haven’t used before; however, it is always exciting using traditional fabrics in new and unusual ways. I remember a project I did at university with a few classmates for the rainwear company Mackintosh where we had to design a new coat for them; with my design I experimented with laser cutting designs onto their traditional rubberized cloth which produced some really interesting effects.
Green is Pantone’s ‘Colour of the Year’. Do you have a signature or favourite colour?
With the spring/summer collection I guess that white has become the signature colour for me; which is interesting as I see it like a blank canvas at the start of my career, waiting to be filled with colour, who knows!
What’s next for Catriona MacAllister?
Keep pushing the label forward with innovative collections that help to raise awareness of my work to an international audience.
Here’s a closer look at Catriona’s spring/summer 13 collection with some studio shots by Dan Sim.
Yes, that is a wardrobe FULL OF CAKE.
Having heard only good things about Lovecrumbs in Edinburgh, it was top of my list of places to go when I was home for Christmas. And it was certainly worth the wee wait! This cosy tearoom in Edinburgh’s West Port (just along from the Grassmarket) is a haven for cake lovers, tea addicts and vintage aficionados alike. The brainchild of lovely lady bakers Rachel and Hollie, Lovecrumbs is the icing on the cake (!) of Edinburgh’s excellent baking scene. They sell a variety of bakes and cakes as well as tea from Anteaques, coffee by Artisan Roast and hot chocolate from Coco.
With their unique flavour combinations, Lovecrumbs’ bakes tasted even better than they looked (click here and drool). After much umming and ahhing, I went for the festive white chocolate and chestnut tart (the chestnut purée really gave the chocolate a lovely depth of flavour) and the deliciously spicy orange, chilli and clove hot chocolate. Al had an apricot scone and violet tea (complete with a thermos of boiling water for refills!) which was seriously yummy.
The atmosphere is relaxed and homely, just like an old friend’s front room. For me the pleasure was in the details – mismatched furniture, vintage teacups and retro utensils. All this contrasted with the almost industrial, stripped-back décor with exposed beams and pillars, which kept things modern and avoided the risk of looking twee.
This was the first of two visits whilst I was at home – if I lived in Edinburgh, you’d have to keep me away!
You can find Lovecrumbs at 155 West Port, as well as the Drill Hall Food Market (Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36, Dalmeny St, Leith). They also offer a wholesale service and make cakes to order for events, including bespoke wedding and celebration cakes. Click here to follow them on twitter and here to like them on Facebook!
The West Port is one of my favourite parts of the city – it’s filled with brilliant vintage and antique shops, including Edinburgh stalwart Herman Brown. Here are a few shots of ‘Cabaret’, one of my favourite vintage shops, which deserves a post of its own!