From Scotland With Love
New York City is the epicenter of Celtic fashion tonight, as designers, fashionistas, celebrities and media come together for one stylish soiree.
Dr. Geoffrey Scott Carroll is a man of his word.
“Prior to coming to New York, I spent time with my father before he passed away,” shared the native of Peebles, Scotland. “He made me promise that I would help other Scots. As I have been fortunate in my business pursuits, I have been able to keep that promise.”
A founding member of the GlobalScot network, and one of the two finalists for the first CEO of Scottish Enterprise, Carroll is also the originator and producer of From Scotland With Love, the largest and most prestigious Scottish fashion event in the world.
From modest beginnings – the idea was conceived over single malts in his New York City kitchen – the mandate for Carroll and his longtime friend and FSWL co-host Peter Morris has remained the same since its inception; “to put a modern glove over the traditional Scottish hand and provide a more contemporary vision of Scotland.”
Originally called Dressed To Kilt, the annual gathering has not only raised significant funds for noble and charitable causes – including this year’s beneficiaries the Wounded Warrior Project and the McConnell International Foundation – but has become a major fixture on the New York fashion scene and calendar.
All worthwhile causes, noted Carroll, though he never forgets the promise made to his father.
“When I arrived in New York, there was an absence of groups here trying to help the young and talented Scots. There were many events and groups that focused on the more traditional events – highland games and parades – but very few that offered a helping hand to younger people. I also found that the image of Scotland among many New Yorkers was somewhat distorted and focused more on the past rather than the present.”
To that end, FSWL aims to engage a different demographic, including many non-Scots.
“We have been able to successfully attract a younger and more diversified audience around the globe with what we have done. And we have helped numerous young Scots become more established over here. Designers, manufacturers, entertainers, photographers, caterers – the show has provided them with new commercial opportunities that they could not afford on their own.”
Those efforts are again in place for tonight’s gala.
“The theme of this year’s show is The Scottish Lion Meets The Asian Dragon,” explained Carroll. “We hope to further grow commercial opportunities and relationships for Scottish manufacturers and designers with new Asian partners, and expand our press and media coverage into those markets.”
To do so, he and his partners have enlisted the help of a number of notable Asian personalities, including designers Vivienne Tam, Gemma Kahgn, Jimmy Choo, Zang Toi and Chloe Chen, as well as world-renowned Japanese fiddler Sarina Suno and the first Asian supermodel Ling Tan.
“We are also extremely pleased to have the support of some of the major Asian organizations here in New York,” added Carroll, “including the Asia Society, the China Institute, the Asian in NY Group and the Asian Women in Business Group.”
Other celebrities likely to be taking part in this year’s proceedings include actors Gerard Butler, Steve Buscemi, Claire Holt, Matthew Rhys, Kelly Hu, Mike Myers, Michelle Kwan and Meghan Orey. Current Miss Scotland Nicole Treacy and Canadian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac are also on the bill.
For the designers themselves, it is an opportunity to showcase both their work and Celtic fashion to an international audience of an estimated 2 billion.
“In the last 10 years there has been a renewed interest in the wearing of Scottish fabrics,” said Glasgow designer Spencer Railton, whose work will again be featured in this year’s festivities. “Tartan and tweed, in particular – which had once been considered too countrified or upper-class or both – have become extremely popular.”
Stylist Janis Sue Smith sees the same trend.
“I have noticed that there has been a huge revival for traditional Scottish fabrics in recent years,” she said by email. “I find them very beautiful and often use them in my work.”
Others have a different perspective.
“Celtic Fashion isn’t all about tartan and muted colours,” shared designer Joyce Paton, also an event regular. “Just take a walk down any high-street in Glasgow or Edinburgh and you will see that Scots love all sorts of style and are very creative in how they wear it.”
Alan Moore, the talent behind Glasgow-based brand ten30, echoes the sentiment, explaining that the stereotype of “Celtic fashion” is no longer a fully accurate reflection of the genre.
“It has become a mix of new and old. Scotland has always had style and a wealth of fantastic products. However, designers here are now embracing new technologies such as laser cutting and etching, digital and 3D printing, as well as 3D mapping and working with SMART textiles, whilst retaining a respect for, and still using, traditional, classic, luxury Scottish-made products such as tweed, cashmere and leather.”
Designer Rebecca Torres, also a native of Glasgow, noted that a variety of factors are bringing Scottish fashion into the spotlight.
“People have generally become more aware of our style and fashion in recent years due to the internet, especially social media,” she shared. “There has also been greater support for home-grown talent in Scotland, mostly via the Scottish press, so people take greater pride in what they are wearing. Events like From Scotland With Love, the Scottish Fashion Awards, the Mobo awards and the recent Chanel show in Linlithgow Palace, are also creating greater visibility for our industry.”
Geoffrey Scott Carroll said it’s all part of the plan.
“We do have a very proud and distinguished culture and it is a unique one. In a world where literally everything is becoming homogenized, I personally think that it is essential to highlight the differences. Also, the world is growing at a very rapid rate, and our Celtic countries are not. This presents very obvious problems moving forward, and I believe that it is vital to continue to highlight the relevance and importance of our culture.
“From Scotland With Love achieves that, and it also fulfills my promise to my father.”