Karl Lagerfeld’s Highland Fling

By Schuyler Mack

Where does a visionary genius go when he’s already conquered the world? To a sheep farm in Scotland. That’s what Karl Lagerfeld has done, launching this fall’s hottest trend: plaid.

Lagerfeld has had a long love affair with Scotland and has created a fall line to pay homage to the land and its people, says Pilar Hubbarb with Chanel’s corporate headquarters.

Barrie Knitwear, one of Scotland’s oldest cashmere mills, was acquired by the designer in October 2012. The Hawick-based mill, which has produced Chanel’s cashmere knitwear for a quarter of a century, was in danger of shuttering after its parent company, 140-year-old textiles conglomerate Dawson International, was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Lagerfeld was so excited about the latest acquisition that his Pre-Fall show, “Dressed to Kilt,” was an extravaganza devoted to Scottish heritage. The over-the-top bold plaid statement pieces, textured knits, and patchwork, layered in swingy jackets, were truly spectacular. It is no wonder that after this show the tartan trend started popping up in the runway shows of all major designers.

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Photo: Style.com

“Lagerfeld has had a long-time love affair with Scottish garb and their way of dress,” Hubbarb says.

One may ask how the purchase of a cashmere plant transitions to plaid trending this fall. “He created his Pre-Fall collection as an homage to the Scottish and his recent purchase in the country,” she says.

Fashion houses such as Riccardo Tisci, Moschino and Michael Kors have featured the highland-inspired trend on and off the runway, making it a clear front-runner for this season’s craze.  is a buyer at the original Dallas Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Opitz notes: “It was an overwhelmingly easy-to-spot trend circulating down the ranks. After our buyers meetings we all came to a comprehensive decision — plaid was to be the main fall must-have print.”

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It is an interesting process to uncover how a trend emerges. What started out as a  financial crisis at a small cashmere  mill in a small town in Scotland, spurred by Lagerfeld’s genius, became a global fashion statement that yielded a billion dollar surge in the fashion business. Now, Scottish-inspired plaids can be found in any campaign from Phillip Lim, trickling down to mass-market shops such as Zara and H&M.  The trend is so pervasive that one can spot it in fashions from the lowliest form of workout wear to the ensembles worn by the most elegant women striding the streets at New York Fashion week. Thank you Mr. Lagerfeld.

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