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.