Designer juggles job at government with worldwide fashion

BY DAY she is a security guard, casting a watchful eye over proceedings at Scottish Government HQ and providing a familiar face to staff and visitors.

But most people will be unaware that Irene Wadsworth's alter-ego as quirky fashion designer means she is not just well-known within St Andrew's House, but across the globe.

Ms Wadsworth's talent for producing bespoke clothing, bags and accessories earned her the accolade of becoming the official designer for Homecoming Scotland.

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The talented seamstress produced her trademark corset top and bustle skirt in the Homecoming tartan – and it won her the right to show it at the prestigious Dressed to Kilt fashion show, hosted by Sir Sean Connery, in New York.

Her design was chosen by Obama Girl – aka actress and model Amber Lee Ettinger, who shot to fame after producing an internet video – during her stint on the catwalk, and it immediately attracted worldwide attention.

Ms Wadsworth, who lives in Lauriston, said: "The Homecoming outfit consists of a corset top and bustle skirt.

"I also designed and made Homecoming ties, sporran handbags and drawstring bags, which were used as press packs.

"I was so pleased that Obama Girl chose my outfit, considering the amount of outfits that went out there and the amount the celebrities had to choose from for their walk down the catwalk.

"She looked like she was having so much fun in it and I contacted her afterwards and she thanked me for designing it.

"Since Obama Girl wore it, I've had people contacting me asking specifically for the dress that she wore because she looked so fabulous.

"To be part of this year's Dressed to Kilt event was a huge privilege. I've been designing and making tartan outfits for ten years and to see them finally coming to New York as part of Tartan Week makes me very proud."

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Ms Wadsworth started her Impractical Clothes business ten years ago, and sells made-to-measure and off-the-peg outfits.

Although she has had shops in various locations in Edinburgh over the years, she now runs her business online. Her career really kicked off when she took her tartan designs to a Glasgow fashion show a few years ago.

Her outfits are inspired by style icons, including Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

She soon became famous for her inspirational and modern tartan designs, with actor Brian Cox's wife Nicole requesting that she designed her corset when the couple renewed their wedding vows three years ago.

Ms Wadsworth said: "She used to come into my shop when I had one near the Lyceum whenever she was in Edinburgh."

Ms Wadsworth took a job at the Scottish Government three months ago to help fund her long-term plan to open a Paris shop.

She added: "The two jobs compliment each other on some level because sewing is quite solitary, but working front of house at the government, there's always lots of people coming in and out."