I have the very real prospect of going to Scotland within the next year. 9 months specifically.
Let me tell you why this is a big deal. Because I’ll admit on the face of it, it may not seem like a big deal. It may not even seem like a deal. But trust me, this is at the very least a deal.
Fun fact, “this is at the very least a deal” is the opening line of my Shark Tank pitch for my company, Uber for cheese.
I’ve wanted to go to Scotland since Spring of 2012, but my interest started growing the year before. A friend of mine asked me to make her wedding dress, which in hindsight, feels like an insane thing to ask a twenty-three year old who couldn’t find an actual design job so was subsequently working retail in the gift shop of an historic home.
But when she and I went fabric shopping, the only fabric that grabbed our attention was a bolt of navy and green tartan taffeta that, as luck would have it, was on sale. It was practically waiting for us.
Illustration for Schiaparelli
If you’re not familiar with tartan, imagine plaid but with a much more interesting and complicated history. A history involving magic and romanticism! A history involving nationalism and war! All of that, while still looking very much like plaid.
(There’s also a history of a plaid, coming from the Gaelic word “plaide,” being a specific garment worn by the Scottish in colder months. But I feel like that’s not necessarily a fact you’ll want to share at parties. For the purposes of this blog post, tartan is typically the name for plaid fabric in the UK. Plaid is what we use in America.)
But my friend, being incredibly proud of her family’s Scottish history, saw it for the tartan it was.
Lucille Ball. Not my friend in her wedding dress, though the two are interchangeable.
Over the next few months, we made a wholly unexpected dress. She looked like royalty. And it had pockets, so she was sensible royalty. And while we purchased the fabric in a “let’s just do it” moment, in the end, I couldn’t imagine her wearing anything else. And officially, tartan was on my mind.
So the next year, when my 19th century dress professor was helping me brainstorm topics for the semester research project, she looked at me and said, “what about tartan?”
Little did she know, I would not only say, “yes,” but I would not be cool about it at all. The next year and a half of graduate research would be devoted to tartan. Tartan and the 19th century. Tartan and punk culture. Tartan production and cultural enchantment.
- Tartan is fascinating, guys!
- I’ve been informed my definition of fascinating is not always spot on.