Scottish Christmas cards are star attraction in Tinseltown

CHRISTMAS in Hollywood usually involves gifts from Rodeo Drive and turkey dinners on Malibu beach. But this year, Tinseltown's finest will be celebrating the festive season with a touch of tartan.

A range of Scottish greetings cards designed by Scots supermodel Kirsty Hume have become a hit among the celebrity set and are being sent by A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Christina Aguilera and Brooke Shields.

The range, which features Christmas cards with tartan backgrounds and images of the Scottish landscape as well as Scots phrases including "givin' it laldy" and "may yer lum reek", became all the rage with Hollywood celebrities after Paltrow informed readers of her lifestyle website that she would be sending the cards to her family this year.

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Hume, who moved from Scotland to the US as a teenager and is married to actor Donovan Leitch, son of Sixties Scottish folk singer Donovan, told Scotland on Sunday: "Everybody really seems to love the collection. There are so many people here in the States with Scottish ancestry and they feel a real connection with Scotland. The United States is such a young country and we have such a rich history and so many unique traditions that people here are intrigued by. They love the Scottish accent and are mystified by all the old expressions."

Paltrow has written about the collection on her website, Goop, and revealed that she and her husband Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, would be sending Christmas cards designed by the Scottish expat. "This year I'm sending out holiday cards designed by model Kirsty Hume for Cocodot," wrote Paltrow. "I love the tartan and Celtic themes she came up with, as they are so right for the winter months."

Other celebrities who are understood to be fans of the collection include David Arquette, actor and estranged husband of Courtney Cox, and Adrian Grenier, star of TV series Entourage.

The greeting cards also feature a special range designed to be sent at New Year with images of the Saltire, the Lion Rampant and thistles, and wishing recipients a happy Hogmanay. There is even a card which allows senders to dispatch invites to a "holiday whisky party".

Hume, from Ayr, is currently modelling in the autumn/winter campaign for lingerie designer Agent Provocateur. She was asked to design the range by online boutique Cocodot.

"They asked me to do it after coming to my birthday a couple of months ago when Donovan surprised me by having a piper come to the party," she said. "I was homesick after just coming back from Scotland, I cried and several of my friends did too.It was so surreal seeing a piper standing beside my swimming pool in Los Angeles playing the bagpipes."

Amy Neunsinger, chief creative officer of Cocodot, said: "We long for tradition in America and plaid is very hot right now, it's very fashionable, so the timing is perfect, plus people definitely know who Kirsty is. It's really just a combination of all these things that really hit a note here and made it a success.

"She had all these Scottish traditions in her home and seeing how she entertained, the idea just popped into my head. We worked together on the project, she brought in all these colours and plaids and the Scottish flag as well as photographs of her wedding, and we just incorporated all the things that she brought to us."

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Hume retired from full-time modelling in 2003. She now often talks of moving back to Scotland and says she misses the country. "My inspirations for the collection were the rich Scottish heritage and traditions, from the more obvious tartan and whisky to Shetland lace, thistles and tea," she said. "Also, the colours of the beautiful landscapes and the ever-changing skies."

Hume married Leitch in 1997 at a ceremony at Cameron House on the banks of Loch Lomond attended by designer Stella McCartney and Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz. The couple have lived in California for years and have a daughter, Violet. Leitch was briefly engaged to Paltrow, who has since become a family friend.