“Dress warmly. Wear flat shoes.” The lead up to the Chanel Pre-Fall 2013 Métier d’Arts show in Scotland on Tuesday had a foreboding tone. The setting was Lin Lithgow, a crumbling 15th century palace that was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Whiskey toddies, blazing fires and wool lap blankets ensured none of the hundreds flown in for this special event suffered.
Coco Chanel discovered Scotland’s superior yarns and fabrics during her fishing sojourns with the Duke of Westminster on his Highlands estate. The romance didn’t last but Chanel’s fondness for tweed and plaid did, signatures designer Karl Lagerfeld has long played on but never in such a forthright way.
Scottish model Stella Tennant opened the Chanel Pre-Fall 2013 show in a tartan-lined coat with beaded cashmere scarf and there were argyle knits, plaid knickers and jeans, fair isle cardigans, leather sporran pouches and tam o’shanter caps, but all more luxe and decorative than you would find in any Scottish kilt shop. Feathers sprouted from hats and were splayed over necklines, jewels were strung through finely braided hair, thistle brooches were pinned to giant white bows. And in true Karl Lagerfeld form, there were saucy mixes—a sheer top with Fair Isle beading over a sober Harris tweed skirt, for example. The finale of cream gowns with a period feel could have come straight from the wardrobe of Queen Mary, who outlived two husbands before being decapitated in 1587 for treason.
Guests were then piped out to a banquet of caramelized hog cheeks and sheep cutlets set up in sheer huts beside a placid loch (lake). The setting was right for a knight in shining armour to emerge from the mist. Instead, applause greeted Karl Lagerfeld who arrived for dinner in black jeans and blazer with twinkling lapels.