WHEN Bonnie Prince Charlie visited Linlithgow Palace in September 1745, it is said that its famous fountain was made to flow with wine in his honour.
Last night, Chanel’s Métier d’Arts annual fashion show, hosted this year at the 15th-century palace, surely rivalled that night in excess and decadence.
The couture collection for this “Paris-Edimbourg” show was a celebration of a very Scottish style and made repeated reference to Mary Queen of Scots, who was born in the palace.
Chanel has hosted the Metier d’Arts show – celebrating the skills of its craftsmen and seamstresses – every year since 2002, with each show paying homage to a country that influenced Coco Chanel. Previous shows have been inspired by Bombay, Moscow and Monte Carlo.
With daylight fading, about 300 guests left the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh at 4:30pm yesterday in a fleet of cars. Fashion’s A-list were out in force, with editors flown in from all over the world, but there was no sign of rumoured guests Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The guests were met with hot whisky and ginger cocktails served in the palace’s spectacular courtyard, with crackling braziers lighting the way. Chanel tartan blankets were supplied to keep everyone cosy and the show opened, aptly, with Scottish supermodel Stella Tennant, in a tartan-lined tweed coat.
What followed was a very chic take on all things Scottish, from branded sporrans to chain-mail hip flasks. Models wore tweed kilts, argyle socks and tammy hats trimmed with Chanel’s signature gold chain. Even the evening dresses featured embellished kilt straps.
With mannish tweeds and layers of Fair Isle knits, heavy references were made to Coco Chanel’s love affair with Scotland. She had a relationship with the Duke of Westminster in the late 1920s and joined him on his Sutherland estate, Rosehall, for three summers. She borrowed her lover’s tweeds and made them her own, and the masculine garments were to heavily influence her designs.
The palace is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V, and was one of the principal residences of Scotland’s monarchs in the 15th and 16th centuries. No surprise then that Scotland’s most famous queen was a strong inspiration, albeit with a modern twist: enormous ruffs made of feathers and jewelled bodices with a medieval feel.
Models’ hair was pulled up into severe plaits, a take on Mary Queen of Scots’ distinctive style. They wore layer upon layer of cashmere, with flat boots and masculine shoes. Ghillie dhu hats featured waist-length ribbons, while bags were embellished with feathers and cheeky leather tassels.
Speaking after the show, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld said he was pleased with how it went. “I loved the location and I must say the way the show was staged was exactly what I wanted,” he said.
“It was very interesting to use it for a show. I wanted the rough romance of this beautiful place.”
Chanel recently bought a Borders cashmere mill, Barrie Knitwear in Hawick, after its owner went into administration.
Asked about Scotland’s influence in the fashion world, Lagerfeld replied: “Chanel came here, she discovered tweed and cashmere. Now we’ve bought Barrie.
“Scottish patterns and tartans are all over the world, so there is a strong identity that everybody likes, uses and copies.”