Chanel’s Highland fling

The fashion label revisits its rich Scottish connections

It’s TAKEN place in Shanghai, Moscow and Monte Carlo but this week Scotland was the destination of choice for Chanel’s Métiers d’Art fashion show. The annual spectacle took place within the walls of Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and the lucky 300 guests were greeted by the sound of bagpipes and watched the show on rustic wooden benches, keeping warm with cashmere blankets.

The extravagant event showcases the work of 10 small artisan ateliers (workshops where clothing is made) owned by the brand and is essentially a pre-fall collection designed to preserve their highly technical and increasingly endangered skills. But, as with any Chanel show, the choice of location was no coincidence.

In August the brand paid a reported £9.7m to save Barrie Knitwear, which has produced cashmere for the company for the past 25 years. In doing so, it saved 176 jobs and preserved its own cashmere supply, while ensuring the manufacturer’s heritage and craftsmanship is maintained.

As you would expect, then, cashmere and Fair Isle knits dominated the show, with designer Karl Lagerfeld calling on Scottish-born supermodel Stella Tennant and model du jour Cara Delevigne to show them off on the runway.

But Chanel’s love affair with Scotland didn’t start this year. It all began in the 1920s with the brand’s founder Coco Chanel, who spent many years in the Highlands during her relationship with the Duke of Westminster. It was there that she became inspired to incorporate more Scottish wool into her collections and create the iconic bouclé tweed suit the label is known for. The use of cashmere, tartan and tweed followed in the 50s and 60s and were quickly established as part of the brand’s DNA.

This year’s show was quite the homecoming. The only question now is: where next?

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