Glasgow’s storied Kelvingrove Museum recently bought a tartan frock coat, tartan skirt and a high-collared cream shirt from Clark’s Regency Collection. And although the museum’s curator kilts for sale tells us there are no current plans to put the outfit on display, it is possible that one day it may take pride of place next to the collection’s famous tartan coat, worn by a rider in the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who features in season two of Outlander.Siobhan MacKenzie
Kilt designer Siobhan MacKenzie, who heils from the Black Isle in Scotland’s Highlands, claims a stronger link to Outlander than most. (Castle Leod, her clan’s seat in the town of Strathpeffer, is assumed to have been the inspiration for Outlander’s Castle Leoch.) Named the Best New Scottish Designer of 2016, MacKenzie looks to her Highland roots for inspiration for a modern take on the kilt. “I started experimenting with my heritage to give a 21st century spin on it,” she explains “The kilt dates back to the 16th century but the contemporary kilt is untapped. Just presenting it in a way it has never been seen before is really getting people’s attention; reinvigorating it and bringing it into a new era.”
Courtesy of Siobhan MacKenzie
After training in traditional kilt making with Scotland’s master kilt maker, Glenisla Kilts, Glasgow-based MacKenzie began developing techniques to redesign the traditional kilt and modernize it. Where a customary kilt is all one fabric, MacKenzie breaks with tradition by contrasting her pleats, moving between tartan and tweed, for example.
Currently focused on launching her women’s ready-to-wear line, sourcing all of her fabrics and manufacturing within Scotland, provenance is on her mind. Prior to launching, MacKenzie noticed that a lot of what was on offer for women was mass-produced kilts that are not made in Scotland—the kind commonly seen in Scotland’s many souvenir stores. “Cheaper kilts that are not made using Scottish fabrics or Scottish manufacturers, or even UK manufacturers for that matter, can be quite damaging to [the image of] our real kilts,” she says.