Dame Vivienne Westwood, who celebrated her 80th birthday last week, has had a long love affair with the kilt, which first began to take shape in the late 16th century in the Highlands of Scotland. In the 1970s, the British designer began experimenting with the traditional Scottish symbol, layering it over black bondage suits and selling it at the Kings Road boutique she shared with Malcolm McLaren, the then manager of the Sex Pistols. To this day, kilts have appeared again and again in her collections, from classic iterations, which were paired with Fair Isle knits in her 1988 Time Machine season, to a tiny MacAndreas tartan (a now signature Westwood print) that was worn down the 1993 Anglomania runway by supermodel Linda Evangelista.
Now, for the first time in her decades-long career, a handful of Westwood’s limited-edition unisex tartan kilts, which were previously only sold at Westwood’s Worlds End London boutique, will be available at a number of her shops across the world, from Paris and Milan to New York and Los Angeles. “The kilt is a wonderful garment on its own, but tartans are absolutely brilliant. Tartan looks wonderful with everything and tartan with tartan also looks great,” Westwood says, noting that all of the pieces have been expertly handcrafted by traditional makers in the Highlands of Scotland from MacAndreas and traditional Scottish weaves. “The idea that there were particular tartans belonging to this house or another was developed by the Victorian tourist industry, but nevertheless it is traditional, these hand-woven clothes in stripes and check. It’s a heroic image, the kilt flying and the idea of climbing mountains in this garb with the wind blowing behind you. They have all got stories, these fabrics.” And, surely, if you get your hands on one, you will too.
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