Big names such as Brian Cox, Billy Connolly, Chris Noth and Kiefer Sutherland joined in a charity celebration of Scottish fashion in New York, Dressed to Kilt, as part of Scotland Week. Tim Cornwell reports on a glittering occasion
DUNDEE actor and Hollywood star Brian Cox led a celebrity line-up from his Broadway show in a uniquely Scottish salute at the Dressed to Kilt fashion event in New York on Tuesday.
The show, founded in 2003, appears to have now built its own momentum as the premier Scottish fashion event outside the UK. Mr Cox – currently starring in That Championship Season on the Broadway stage, playing a retired basketball coach – helped supply serious star power among some 50 models on the catwalk on Tuesday night.
He took to the stage with fellow actors, including Kiefer Sutherland, the 24 star who is of Scottish descent, and Chris Noth, of Sex and the City fame. They were joined by actors Jason Patric and Jim Gaffigan, who paraded their kilts on the catwalk and ended with a flourish of what lay underneath.
Although organised separately, Dressed to Kilt has become the media highlight of the Scotland Week celebrations which are run by the Scottish Government. This year's event – often attended by government ministers – has been more low key as it coincides with the Holyrood election campaign.
Sir Sean Connery is co-founder of the Friends of Scotland charity which organises Dressed to Kilt's, but he was unable to attend. The 80-year-old actor cancelled along with his granddaughter, Saskia, 15, who was also due to model. But the line-up yesterday included the Italian-Scots singing sensation Paolo Nutini, the Trump family, and Billy Connolly.
"So many of our leaders come from Scotland. They're warriors," Donald Trump, the event's chairman, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
It noted that the event – themed on Country Chic and held at the Hammerstein Ballroom – included celebrities and models ranging from Miss Scotland, Nicola Mimnagh, to more surprising appearances by reigning Miss Guatemala, and the Swedish model, Marcus Schenkenberg, and the New York Giants running back Danny Ware.
The event was a celebration of the Scottish diaspora in North America. Trump, with his wife, Melania, is part Scottish, and is heavily involved in promoting his new golf links venture near Aberdeen.
Sutherland, the British-Canadian actor, best known for his portrayal of Jack Bauer on the drama series 24, has Scottish ancestry through both parents – Canadian actors Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas. His grandfather was the Scots-born Baptist and leading Canadian politician, Tommy Douglas, credited with bringing unversal healthcare to that country.
The Glenlivet Dressed To Kilt event, in its eighth year, raised money for charities by showing off cutting-edge Tartan designs. All funds this year will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Erskine Hospital in Scotland.
Billy Connolly struck a Rodin-inspired pose as he emerged in traditional kilt, high socks and a denim jacket. Singer Paolo Nutini delivered an acoustic set in blue tartan suit, on an evening intended to highlight the Scottish roots of much country and western music.
The showcase was organised with the Scottish textiles industry, including such firms as Calzeat and Harris Tweed Hebrides. Bob Galbraith, from Calzeat, said: "We are proud of having played a key role in supporting Dressed to Kilt from year one, which is a unique and exciting opportunity for Scottish mills to show the world what they want and can achieve creatively. As the biggest Scottish fashion event in the world, this catwalk show not only showcases our innovation and skills base, but also offers the industry a commercial platform for everything we produce, from Jacquard to Tweed."
A string of Scottish designers were invited to show their work, from traditional kiltmakers like Kiltpin and Harris Tweed designer Judy Clark, to acclaimed newcomer Henrietta Ludgate and Scottish Variety Award winner ten30.
Guests included the Los Angeles-based Scottish actress Louise Linton, a newly appointed ambassador for The Scottish Fashion Awards, who wore a Swarovski encrusted couture evening gown and carried a Saltire Kiosque bag by the Swarovski creative director Nathalie Colin.
Ms Linton, who has has recently finished work in two films and a television drama William and Kate, Royal Couple, playing one of Kate Middleton's friends at St Andrews University, said: "It was one of the strongest Dressed to Kilts yet. I think that every year it is getting better and better, because it generates a lot of press for Scotland so more people know about it. It's attracting bigger names from fashion and film.
"Backstage and it was extremely well organised and executed, 50 models, from local Scottish people to major international celebrities. There was a warmth in the room backstage, a warm feeling amongst everyone."
A CELEBRATION OF SCOTLAND
• The funding and profile for Scotland Week has been pared back this year amid budget cuts and the Scottish election campaign, but will still include promotional events and private business meetings in eight cities across North America.
• Highlights include the annual Tartan Day parade in New York on Saturday, with pipe and drum bands led by the Grand Marshall, the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Bob Winter. The Scotland Run, sponsored by the Scottish Government, follows in Central Park on Sunday.
• Other events include theatre performances of Black Watch by the National Theatre of Scotland in Chicago – the play has won rave reviews across the US – and of The Promise by another Scottish company, Random Accomplice, in New York.
• In Canada, Tartan Day celebrations were set to include the annual Sons of Scotland Pipe Band parade in Ottawa and a ceilidh dance in the Great Hall in Toronto.
• The VisitScotland agency has focused its efforts on Toronto and New York, with award-winning Scots chef Michael Smith, of Skye's famous Three Chimney's restaurant, promoting Scottish cuisine in both cities.
• To coincide with the 70th anniversary of the grounding of the SS Politician, private screenings have been scheduled of the film classic, Whisky Galore, for travel trade and travel media guests to promote film tourism and Scottish whisky.
• This year's official Scottish delegation has been led by Enterprise and Tourism Minister Jim Mather.