Established in 2003 by Geoffrey Scott Carroll and the late Sir Sean Connery, Dressed to Kilt has become one of the world’s premier fashion shows and goodwill events. Aptly described as a night of “charity, fashion and fun,” the gathering has generated significant interest since its inception, attracting the attention of many notable celebrities, including Gerard Butler, Andie McDowell, Arun Gandhi, Keifer Sutherland, Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Mike Meyers, and many more. Recently we spoke with Carroll about this weekend’s event.
What are your own roots?
I am from Peebles, Scotland in the Borders.
Why are those roots important to you?
Though the United States is now my adopted country, I believe that it is a mistake to forget where you and your family come from. I still have family there, and I go out of my way to maintain contacts back home.
What does it mean to you to be of Scottish heritage?
We Scots believe that we are different from others. This is certainly not a criticism of non-Scots, but my dearest and closest friends, even today, are all from Scotland. Many of them have left Scotland and created lives and careers around the globe. But there is always something between us that we share only with each other because of our backgrounds and heritage.
DTK’s mandate has remained intact over two decades.
Correct – the objectives haven’t changed in the last 20 years: to promote a more contemporary vision of Scotland, to provide real commercial opportunities, to showcase and promote Scottish talent of all ages, to promote Scottish fashion, textiles and style industries, to raise funds for worthwhile charities on both side of the Atlantic and – perhaps most importantly – to leave the impression with all attendees that Scotland can be a benchmark for being the very best in the world.
How has the event itself evolved?
I guess the show has changed in several significant ways over the years. For example, we no longer promote fancy cocktail dresses or evening gowns. Our focus is now on the fashion of the outdoors, a rapidly and widely growing area everywhere since the pandemic. This means clothing for hiking, hunting, shooting, fishing, camping, climbing, riding and most outdoor activity in general. Outdoor couture if you will. The second major change would be in the type of models we now invite and promote. The people who support us are very interested in seeing real and very accomplished men and women, both heroes and unsung heroes. For example, we now always invite a US Congressional Medal of Honor recipient to participate in the show as well as a number of former Navy SEALS. We invite record setting Scottish adventurers to walk in the runway and we always have a major athlete or two from both sides of the Atlantic in the show.
This is the first year that DTK will be hosted in Washington?
Yes. Along with NYC, we have held DTK shows in Houston, Texas to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and have also done a DTK show in Los Angeles early on. I personally moved to Washington at the end of 2022, and we thought that this show might receive a warm response here in the nation’s capital in light of the rather large Scottish-American community and the very large military community. As well, though DTK was a well received permanent fixture on the NYC fashion scene for almost 20 years, Washington DC does not have a significant fashion section or many fashion shows and we were told that they would welcome a major international fashion show like ours. The initial reaction that we have received so far suggests that our assessment was correct.
How did you choose this year’s theme, and what can attendees expect?
Well, Washington DC has never experienced a DTK show before and the city is adjacent to some of the most beautiful countryside in the US where there is much hunting, shooting hiking, fishing and the incredible horse country of Virginia , so we decided to focus on “Country Cool – Fashion for Outdoors”. The attendees can expect hunting dogs on the runway as well as hunting falcons, the sport of kings. We are still trying to sort our how we can bring a horse to the show.
Which designers will be showcasing this weekend?
We have a number of new designers this year combined with our traditional Scottish designers. We are always looking for designers that creatively and elegantly use Scottish fabric such cashmere, tweed, and Tartan. This year’s show will include the designs of Walker Slater, Totty Rocks, House of Bruar, Great Scot, Glenisla Kilts, House of Cheviot, Lorna Gillies, ORVIS, Rettl Kilts & Fashion of Austria, Sara Tiara, the Sisterhood of the Outdoors, Hunt Country Clothing and Harris Tweed Hebrides.
Which celebrities will be appearing?
Just a few of the individuals that we have invited this year include Graham McTavish of Outlander fame; Lesley Peterson, the Scottish woman who created the “All Quiet on the Wester Front” film which was recently nominated for 14 BAFTAS and won 8, and was also nominated for 9 Ocars and won 4; the current Miss Scotland Lucy Thomson; Taylor Winyard of Peebles who last year rowed across the Atlantic with two British mates and they set a new world record ; Edward Byers, former Navy SEAL , SEAL Team Six, and recipient of the US Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic action in Afghanistan; the young popular singer Nati Dreddd will be making her US debut at this year’s show ; and of course we need to keep a few surprises for the attendees.
Why is it an important event for the community there, and nationally/internationally?
We are the only Scottish show of our kind in the world. Parades are always fun to watch but they do not promote the talent, the creativity, and the entrepreneurship of the Scots. Scotland is considerably more than whisky and bagpipes that everyone always associates us with. Our show entertains but it also makes people think about how much talent and energy there is back home. Over the past 20 years we have given an untold number of designers and entertainers a leg up over here in the US market. The one constant that we try and convince people of is that “made in Scotland is a mark of the very best in the world”, products and people.
Will you continue to host the event in the years ahead?
Me personally, bloody good question. We will just have to watch this space.