IT COULD be the Tartan Army’s Foreign Legion. Moschino, the Italian fashion label, has stunned the catwalks of fashion capital Milan with “a tartan revolution” for its haute couture line including kilts, bow ties and a Glengarry or two.
What might be seen as traditional here is now the height of high fashion in Europe, albeit with a twist. To a Brit Pop soundtrack by the likes of Verve, Oasis and Blur, models in Royal Stewart tartan jackets, bow ties and waistcoats embroidered with the label’s signature gold hearts – teamed with black mini-skirts or tartan trousers – took to the runways. The outfits were topped off with a traditional military Glengarry or even a riding hat, and accessories included small tartan handbags and plenty of jewellery.
Rossella Jardini, Moschino’s creative director, launched her show at Milan Fashion Week. Focusing on Scotland, it included a bagpipe procession as she went on stage to receive resounding cheers from the audience. Speaking backstage as the autumn-winter 2013-14 show got under way, she said: “I love everything British, I have from the beginning. I always do, any time.”
Moschino is not the only top designer to go for the Scottish look. Another Italian fashion house – Blugirl – also adopted the tartan theme, this time combining it with leopardskin and lace for a demure but daring look.
The label, which this year is using British style icon Alexa Chung as muse for its winter collection, presented a selection which included tartan-printed taffeta bubble skirts, high ruffle-neck lace Edwardian-style blouses and big, loose, leopard-skin jackets.
But while the notoriously fickle fashion crowd is laying claim to “discovering” tartan in February 2013, it has been a mainstay of many previous shows and integral to certain eras in the music scene.
Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols, helped define the fashion of the punk era, wearing his iconic tartan bondage suit designed by Vivienne Westwood.
The late Alexander McQueen, who designed his own tartan, attracted fierce criticism for his March 1995 collection “Highland Rape”, which featured models who looked distraught, wearing slashed garments, breast-exposing tartan jackets and tight tartan bodices.
However, McQueen justified his stance saying that the term “rape” had been intended to tell the story of the “rape” of the Scottish Highlands by English, profit-driven landlords.
McQueen used tartan in several of his collections, including his “Ensemble, Widows of Culloden” in 2006-07.
Douglas Kinloch Anderson, chairman of Edinburgh-based Kinloch Anderson, which makes tartan and exports it worldwide, said he welcomed the latest burst of enthusiasm for tartan but with the caveat that it was used in the appropriate way.
He said: “Tartan is particularly fashionable at the moment. It is being used more and more in the fashion world. This is not a bad thing provided it is used in the right way.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it is on the catwalk in Milan as there is a quite substantial interest worldwide in authentic tartans with history behind them, rather than fashion checks.
“What we are keen to see, or want to see, is tartan used an authentic way, not made fun of.”
Mr Kinloch Anderson, whose family has been in business since 1868 and whose portfolio now includes 300 shops in Asia, added: “Tartan appeals to people all over the world, to people of different ages.”