WITH its mix of cutting-edge fashion and outlandish outfits, it has been the centrepiece of Tartan Week festivities in New York for more than a decade.
But just days before a host of famous names were due to head down the catwalk, it has emerged that this year’s Dressed to Kilt show has been scrapped.
The last-minute cancellation of the event – which its long-time organiser put down to illness – is a major blow to the annual stateside showcase of Scottish culture, which gets under way today.
Stars including Gerard Butler, Alan Cumming, Dario Franchitti, Craig Ferguson, Andie McDowell and Mike Myers have graced the event in previous years.
But the fashion show had been at the centre of a bitter dispute for the last two years, with Borders-born businessman Geoffrey Scott Carroll at legal loggerheads with the charity Friends of Scotland, which Sir Sean Connery helped set up.
Dr Scott Carroll was forced to stage the event under the banner of From Scotland With Love in 2012 and 2013 after being threatened with court action by the charity, but announced earlier this year that it would be returning under its previous guise.
Friends of Scotland filed for bankruptcy last year, with court papers revealing it had racked up £20,000 of debts.
The event had been promoted for months and was due to be held on 7 April.
Dressed to Kilt has grown to become a major showcase for designers, as well as a magnet for celebrities. It has traditionally generated more media coverage than any other event during Tartan Week, including the annual parade, which kilt designer Howie Nicholsby is due to lead on Saturday.
Proceeds from the 2014 event were meant to go to Wounded Warriors, a US-based charity for injured soldiers, and an aid organisation set up by former Scottish first minister Jack McConnell, who helped revive the event in 2012 along with tycoon Sir Tom Hunter.
Lord McConnell, who told his Twitter followers several weeks ago that his foundation was involved again, declined to comment.
There is no explanation on the official website for the cancellation, only a brief statement. This says: “The organisers of Dressed to Kilt have agreed to postpone this year’s fashion show until later in 2014. Watch this website for updates.”
It is understood Dr Scott Carroll hopes to stage the event in November, in the run-up to St Andrew’s Day.
One source close to the event said: “Geoffrey Scott Carroll has organised it virtually on his own from day one and if he has been unable to commit much time to it then it’s no surprise it’s had to be cancelled.
“The idea is to stage it later this year but, without the event, the Tartan Week programme looks pretty bare and lacks the star power that Dressed to Kilt always brought.”
Dr Scott Carroll told The Scotsman all legal difficulties over the event had been resolved, and insisted the decision to shelve the event show had been taken to allow him to properly recovery from surgery last month.
He is understood to have undergone an eye operation.
He added: “There was indeed a dispute over the ownership of the Dressed to Kilt name. We challenged these actions in the courts and we won. I now once again control all of the Dressed to Kilt trademarks internationally that I originally created.”
Events going ahead include a fun run in Central Park, a food and drink showcase, and the first New York Tattoo.