Scottish Designers are Dressed to Kilt

BY LAUREN DAVID PEDEN/THE FASHION INFORMER

Dressed to Kilt

I’ve been covering fashion for a while now, but last Wednesday night was my first time checking out the annual “Dressed to Kilt” reception, which took place at a two-floor showroom on Madison Avenue, adjacent to the Whitney. Presented by the Scottish Textiles Industry — with a wee bit o’ help from honorary co-chairs, Sir Sean and Lady Connery — the event introduces Scottish designers to New York buyers and press.

On Tuesday night, Hammerstein Ballroom had played host to a “Dressed to Kilt” fashion show, the theme of which was “Country Chic (Where Scottish Couture Meets Country Cool),” with celebs like Rosanne Cash, Katrina Bowden, Billy Connolly, Amy Grant, Matthew Settle, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Marcus Schenkenberg walking the runway in creations by Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and House of Holland, among others. I opted to skip that OTT tartan fest in favor of the more intimate cocktail reception the following evening, which gave me a chance to see the designs up close and talk to some of the younger talent who’d come Stateside for the occasion.

Glasgow-based Iona Crawford is perhaps the best known of the “Dressed to Kilt” emerging designers, having launched her line four years ago after studying at the Edinburgh College of Art. Known for her sharply tailored feminine silhouettes and painterly prints (which are based on her own, highly accomplished, artwork), Crawford has already won the 2009 London Calling Competition, been nominated for a Scottish Fashion Award, been invited to show her collection at Tokyo Fashion Week, and had an audience with the Queen of England. Not bad for a newbie.

For Fall 2011, Crawford collaborated with renowned Scottish menswear brand Skopes (the people behind the world’s most expensive suit) on a tailored womenswear collection offset by her signature painterly silks; this season, her prints are inspired by the graceful elegance of birds. You can see the collection, dubbed Ailsa, in this video, which was shot at her parents’ farm in rural Scotland – where she paints the animals and livestock that feature so heavily in her work.

Equally multi-talented is textile and fashion designer Claire McInally, who launched her line of geometric print blouses and origami-like, wool-and-woven-leather sheath dresses less than a year ago. Her beautiful, figure-flattering creations spoke for themselves – this is clearly a designer to watch.

As is ten30’s Alan Moore, winner of the 2011 Designer of the Year prize at the Scottish Variety Awards, who proudly showed me a one-of-a-kind tweed jacket with an elaborately embroidered back panel that took nearly 30 hours to complete. Other standout pieces from his collection include digital print day dresses, embroidered sheaths and easy trousers with hand-embroidered cuffs. The adorably scruffy Moore, visiting NYC for the first time, was as excited about his newly-acquired souvenir (a Yankees logo tattooed on his upper arm) as he was to show his collection to New York’s fashion flock.

The knitwear line Jaggy Nettle (sumptuous cashmere pullovers emblazoned with quirky prints or phrases) and shoe collections by Emily Lamb (chic, colorful pumps) and Mandarina (plaid kitten heel slingbacks), were also worth noting.

Crawford told me that she, Moore, and McInally are planning to form their own Scottish design collective with the aim of supporting and promoting local up-and-comers. I, for one, can’t wait to see what this incredibly talented trio has up their well-tailored sleeve for the future.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

April 11, 2011