Chanel’s Scottish Inspiration

chanel-200x300French fashion powerhouse Chanel recently hosted it’s annual Metiers d’Arts show at Linlithgow Palace just outside of Edinburgh, showcasing a contemporary interpretation of traditional Scottish crafts and tartan.

Creative director Karl Lagerfeld’s collection combined elements of gothic grandeur with tartan, tweed, sporrans, argyle socks and brogues, coloured with a rich earthy palette. The show ended with a nod to the palace’s most famous resident Mary Queen of Scots, as models glided past braziers and fountains in regal high collared gowns.

Scotland provided a heavy inspiration for house-founder Coco Chanel who championed the appropriation of menswear as womenswear. This design philosophy popularised active, casual chic in the 1920s, liberating women from the confines of the corseted silhouette. During her stays in Scotland with the Duke of Westminster between 1924 and 1931, Chanel took to borrowing the Duke’s tweeds for her long walks in the countryside. Photos from this time show her dressed in men’s attire including tweed jackets, cashmere cardigans, trousers and sturdy boots, with several dogs in tow.  Chanel gathered leaves, moss and earth from her walks, which were taken to the local tweedmaker so he could incorporate the colours into the weave. Fabrics from this mill were shipped to Paris and made into perhaps her most iconic creation, the two piece tweed suit.

The Linlithgow showcase also confirmed Chanel’s continuing legacy in Scotland who have recently acquired Hawick-based Barrie Knitwear, longtime manufacturer of Chanel cashmere. The deal saved 176 jobs, threatened with closure after the mill’s owner went bankrupt in August.

A gallery of the showcase can be viewed here.

Coco Chanel with friend Vera Bate at Lochmore

Coco Chanel with friend Vera Bate at Lochmore


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

View all posts by Nadine Lee →

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