Monday, 24 August 2015

Kilts and Things







I bought my first kilt when I was thirteen. It was from a charity shop, naturally. This was the point where tartan and pleats were still plentiful – every pattern and colour hidden in among long, floral maxis and denim minis. I had little notion of the significance of the kilt as a specific design then, just claiming it as part of my general ‘granny chic’ ensemble (and indeed, my great-grandma had her fair share of kilts too). Over the years, the vast collection I assembled got whittled down – waistlines grew too small, or skirt lengths too cumbersome. Now I have a small but select group of three: one in black and white, one bright yellow, and one entirely magnificent in red, cream and green stretching to the floor. The former two I tend to wear all through the winter. The latter is just for special occasions.

As my interest in fashion history grew, the silhouette of the kilt took on new resonances. It made me think of punk and Vivienne Westwood, of Alexander McQueen, of Clueless and nineties teens, of Scottish heritage (I am ashamed to say that this was the last thing to come to mind). I still didn’t think of ‘the kilt’ as a standalone item in my own wardrobe though – it was just rammed in among a rag-tag mix of other tartan things, and other thick, wool garments. I was careless with mine, and also a tad sacrilegious. I still have a habit of wearing them back to front, because I prefer the flare of the pleats to the flat of the fabric. Bad, bad me…

Then I saw this delectable item from Le Kilt. It was gorgeous beyond belief. If you had a Rosalind Jana tick-box, it covered an awful lot of points: longstanding design heritage with a twist? Tick.  Strong cultural tradition that’s respected? Tick. Skilled craftsmanship? Tick. Knee-quiveringly beautiful shape and appearance? Tick. A mention of a grandma somewhere in there? Tick.

About a week after I first wobbled on sight of that beauty (incidentally, I think it may be the same one Pandora Sykes gloriously styled in the Sunday Times Style last weekend), I had an email from Katharine, who I was already working with, about a new venture she was setting up. It was called La Coterie. The aim? To provide intelligent, creative fashion content – and spark up conversations. Her reason for asking me to take part? To chat at length about Le Kilt with two other women I highly admire: Kay Montano (make-up maestro, co-founder of ThandieKay, and someone I feel entirely privileged to call a friend) and Navaz Batliwalla (fashion blogger extraordinaire behind the fabulous Disneyrollergirl). I readily said yes, and then began doing my research – looking up everything from the history of the kilt to the story behind the AW15 ‘She Said Boom’ collection (clue: it’s to do with a Toronto based post-punk band called Fifth Column, who you should definitely Google). You can see the resulting dialogue between the three of us here. I also got to wear a fabulous little blue number from Le Kilt for filming, and was reluctant to relinquish it when we were done.

Taking part reinforced something I already recognized – I bloody love conversation. Getting to unspool thoughts and bounce around ideas and follow threads of possibility? It’s the most intensely satisfying experience, whether it’s about fashion and feminism (as it was here), or just a series of musings with a friend over coffee. Long live words. Oh, and I guess, long live kilts. They’re ever so wonderful…

One of my second hand kilts has here been styled (for once, the right way around) with a silk pyjama top, a vintage suede waistcoat from a charity shop, and some men's loafers. 

10 comments:

Anupriya DG said...

I have always, always loved kilts - firstly, as an extension of my ardent love for all things tartan/plaid and secondly, for the love of Alexander McQueen.

P.S.: Oh! Those loafers!!! <3 <3 <3

Closet Fashionista said...

LOVE this look, green is such a good look on you!! I do love kilts too, although I've only ever owned one (and it wasn't even really one...haha)
I always love reading your thoughts on things and wish I was better at expressing myself. I guess I just need to practice!
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

AVY said...

So much better on a girl.

/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com




Jess (freedom, books, flowers) said...

Fascinating interview. I love that there is so much history and pop culture surrounding one garment. A kitl is definitely on my list for autumn now!

Lola Byatt said...

I am very annoyed that I am stuck at work with no headphones. will have to wait some time before i am able to listen to your talk! I have owned a few kilt skirts in the past and I love learning about the history of items of clothing. These days I prefer the tarten pattern on a scarf or a pair of trousers x

The Heba Blog said...

Great outfit! You look so great!

Heba xx || The HebaBloglovinInstagram

Sophie Harrison said...

this outfit is gorgeous from head to toe, i love tartan!!

Lally said...

I was so excited to read this (and watch the film) as funnily enough I'm planning a Scottish post inspired by my heritage! As a Scot I've been a long term fan of the kilt. My family have their own tartan which is sadly rather garish and unpleasant. However I do own several tartan skirts and kilts including a great Mulberry one I got in a chazza several years ago. The conversation was wonderful, I so enjoyed hearing about the references and I love how you styled your own kilt. I'm all for a bit of irreverence when wearing one - back to front is best. XX

Ana de la Serna said...

Lovely outfit. I love the skirt and the shirt. Where did you get the shirt?

Lauryn Mills said...

So cute!!!