High fashion Harris Tweed in Stornoway

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The weeked saw Harris Tweed stride onto the catwalk in great style at the An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway.

A slick fashion parade featuring the designs of some of the country’s top designers was showcased on Saturday evening in an event which incorporated fashion, music, beautiful images and the islands’ heritage.

The curtain went up on the show at 6pm on Saturday and was hosted by Scottish comedian Fred Macaulay it was staged to celebrate the centenary year of the orb trademark.

Amongst the garments on display were designs by Vivienne Westwood, Henry Holland, Deryck Walker, Ben Sherman, Judy R Clark and Iona Crawford.

Alison MacLeod, a Lewis-based textile artist teamed up with Scottish designer Judy R. Clark to produce a unique range of frock coats which opened the show. The womens-wear jackets feature Gaelic poetry, pheasant feather bustles antique lace and delicate silks. This unique collection will be hitting the catwalks of New York City in April where the designers have secured their own slot at this years Dressed to Kilt.

Chief Executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, Lorna Macaulay said: “We’re delighted to have staged this special show to celebrate the centenary year of the ‘orb’ trademark. We felt it was important to give something back to the local community and acknowledge their skill and support over the years. A show like this really helps to bring the fabric to life, giving people the chance to see just how it can be used to create some beautiful designs.

“The resurgence of the fabric as a contemporary cloth which features within the collections of so many high profile designers is amazing. It has also played a major role in building the profile of our island and for the skill of our weavers internationally. The show has demonstrated just how versatile this wonderful fabric can be.”

Judy R Clark is one of Scotland’s leading young designers and loves working with the fabric. She said: “I was delighted to be involved in helping to stage this exclusive show for Stornoway. The audience reaction was incredible they were really impressed to see such a diverse range of designs on the models. I’ve always loved working with Harris Tweed - being able to create such contemporary pieces with a fabric that has such a unique heritage is something very special indeed.”

Tweed has been hand woven in the Outer Hebrides from time immemorial. In 1846 Lady Dunmore, widow of the late Earl of Dunmore asked some Harris Tweed weavers to weave tweed for her in the Murray tartan. This was so successful that she began marketing tweeds to her wealthy friends in London. This was to be the beginning of the Harris Tweed industry. The Harris Tweed Association limited was incorporated in 1909. It was succeeded by the Harris Tweed Authority, established by Act of Parliament in 1993.

Following a difficult number of years during the 1990s and early new millennium, the Harris Tweed industry has begun to revive due to increased application of the ancient cloth in ladies wear, home and corporate interiors, soft furnishing and in high quality accessories. There has also been a significant increase in appreciation of the craft and skill that goes into every metre of Harris Tweed and of its social, historical and indeed economic importance to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The unique protection and the strength of the brand have enabled Harris Tweed to survive these hard times which have largely wiped out most of the UK textile industry.

Pictured above the models show off some of thre great designs featured in the show. SGD 22289