“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” a common phrase we are seeing on the runway as designers bring back the plaid trend for Fall 2018. But does it have another meaning then just another nostalgia moments?
When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert brought Balmoral Castle in 1848 and dressed the interior with Victoria Tartan and Balmoral Tartan, plaid fabrics became rather an exclusive material. By association to the monarch it then began to be used by British Aristocrats and the military there by developing an air of dignity and class. Because of this hierarchy system and the separation of the classes, tartan made a resurgence in the late 1970’s in it’s use in punk fashion, as a way for the British youth to voice their discontent with ruling class. The most familiar designers that turned tartan into mainstream catwalk trends were Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and of course the “Mother of Punk” herself, Vivienne Westwood.
We started to see bold check prints come back in S/S17 with the gingham print appearing on the catwalks, but now tartan is having a moment again, but as we’ve seen the famous material used in many shows this fashion season, does it represent a stronger meaning? Brian Wilton, a tartan expert formerly of the Scottish Register of Tartan thinks so, “it represents rebellious youth but, at a time of such uncertainty, people want to feel like they belong. Tartan is a good visual identifier and provides a sort of security.” With Burberry models walking down the runway to 80’s British band Pet Shop Boys, while dressed in their iconic plaid print with rainbow colours to represent the LGBTQ+ community, Wilton goes on by saying, “which perhaps, ironic given what is going on politically” confirms to us that tartan is here to represent anarchy against the system, again.
Another major fashion house we saw use tartan heavily in their pieces for fall 2018 is Versace, with a huge amount of layering and pattern on pattern, the pieces give the illusion of covering up, but mixed with figure hugging designs and pulled waists, Versace is far from conservative. They showed powerful bright colours with a contrast of grey within the tartan, mixed with full scarves with the Versace logo written on the in bold and statement leather belts to pull in the waist in creating a womanly figure. All these different silhouettes clashing togethers are going to have the millennial’s flock towards Versace and its’ modern take on sporty, grunge and a nod to the iconic British punk movement. Self-Portrait’s open their show in New York with a blue and red check coat and Bottega Venta using fine chain embroidery that gave the illusion of twinkling check print, as well as notably no grudge brands such as Matthew Adams and Marc Jacobs also using tartan in their designs, check is making itself a stable for Fall ’18.
So to make a bold statement this season steal style inspiration from Cher in clueless, Debbie Harris or the Sex Pistols and make brave tartan by clashing it together, or for something more subtle, step out with a plain statement bag or shoes.