Tartan and Tweed

One of my recent borrowings from the local library was this wonderful book entitled Tartan and Tweed.

Tartan and Tweed, a well illustrated book, gives the history of tartan and tweed from their beginnings in the Scottish Highlands to their popularity and use in contemporary fashion design, music, art and film.

When they were talking about personalities and their use of tartan I was tempted to Google the Vogue cover to see the actual illustration that was mentioned in the book as Ewan Mcgregor is one of my favourite actors.

“Both tweed and tartan are fabrics with a strong cultural identity and history. But they have been reinvented to create multiple meanings, particularly when used in street fashions and in haute couture to mimic or parody the aristocracy, and to act as a subversive symbol of rebellion. . . . . It follows the early popularity of tartan and tweed including the fabrics’ connections from crofters and clans to aristocracy, and looks at tweed’s dramatic recovery during an economic crisis and its subsequent re-invention as desirable luxury fashion fabric.

The book explores the use of tartan and tweed in fashion in the collections of leading designers including Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Chanel who have used these textiles in a fresh, subversive way.

I am now searching for biographies of the various designers mentioned as this book has sparked my interest.  I have read Coco Chanel’s biography but will search out the others.

Here are a couple of interesting quotes from the book:

“Maybe part of the reason behind tartan’s eternal popularity is that it’s a fabric for both the Establishment and the rebel.”  (p 54 Tartan + Tweed)

“Tartan is a lot more than misty glens, bagpipes, haggis and shortbread – it can be rebellious, masculine and cool.  Its colours can be loud or harmonious, autumnal or vivid.  It’s a fabric for musicians, pop stars and coquettes, for fashionable 1950s New Yorkers or Shoreditch hipsters, and it has transcended its origins as a fabric of the Highlands to reach out around the world. . . . .It would be reasonable to say it’s the most politicized of cloths – there is no other fabric that acts as such a nationalistic symbol for a particular country while also evoking countless meanings and interpretations.” ( p 54 Tartan + Tweed)   

I have mentioned the use of tartan in a previous post a few years back.  It also gives you a look at some modern kilts.

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