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The designer with the drive to bring the kilt into 21st century

The designer with the drive to bring the kilt into 21st century

Siobhan Mackenzie bought her first sewing machine at the age of 13, determined to achieve her dream of working in the fashion industry.

The 22-year-old fashion graduate is currently running her own business from Glasgow making bespoke kilts.

Recently, she has been putting in the extra hours at the sewing machine making the final touches to her four design entries for the Greyfriars Tartan Fashion Show - a competition which set out to challenge the traditional tartan look using the Greyfriars tartan.

  (© Siobhan Mackenzie)
via STV via STV

And, despite getting out of hospital just hours before the big night, Siobhan says she was delighted to scoop first prize at the international event held during Edinburgh Fashion Week.

“I am so overwhelmed and feel really privileged to have won,” Siobhan said. “I had many sleepless nights as I manufactured everything myself.

“I managed to have an operation in-between doing it all - I actually got out of hospital yesterday morning so I didn't even though if I was going to make the show... it was a nice little boost last night to have won.”

The winning outfit

  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV

Over 150 guests attended the sold out Greyfriars Tartan Fashion Show with designs submitted from around the world.

The Greyfriars Tartan design competition set out to challenge the traditional look asking fashion designers to use Greyfriars tartan to create a garment with the fabric.

The tartan was created in 2011 by Paul Moffat, a member of the Grassmarket Community Project.

The social enterprise works with vulnerable locals to develop new skills, self confidence and become more employable.

Siobhan Mackenzie was awarded first prize for her men’s kilt, which replicated the Scottish saltire in tartan on the backs of the kilt pleats, with the judges favouring her unconventional use of romantic fabrics such as lace and velvet.

  (© Siobhan Mackenzie)
via STV via STV
  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV

English designer Kerri Plumtree finished in second place for her quirky sleeveless dress with structured collar, which was inspired by metaphysics.

  (© Kerri Plumtree)
via STV via STV
  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV

Scottish designer Fiona Muirhead-Kerr, who is a part-time art teacher at Aboyne Academy in Aberdeenshire, took third place and was praised for her military style hat which was covered in Greyfriars Tartan and embellished with ostrich feather and a complimentary brooch.

  (© Fiona Muirhead-Kerr)
via STV via STV
  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV

Siobhan’s inspiration for her latest work came to her while investigating fabrics and the idea of combining textures with the tartan.

“I like to think outside the box so I wanted to implement different texture so with the tartan, I used wool, velvet and lace within the gent's kilt,” Siobhan said.

“It was a really unconventional approach and something you wouldn't normally associate with a gent's garment.

“I had two gents kilt outfits, a ladies kilt outfit and a ladies silk tartan gown. I couldn't pin point a favourite, they are all my pride and joy."

  (© Siobhan Mackenzie)
via STV via STV
  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV
  (© Siobhan Mackenzie)
via STV via STV
  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV
  (© Siobhan Mackenzie)
via STV via STV
  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV

As Siobhan’s company specialises in contemporary kilts, her aim and passion is to use tartan in non-conventional ways. As she woke up this morning following the award, she was already thinking ‘right, what’s next’.

“At the moment, I do bespoke orders but what I really want to do as well is have ready to wear collections of the kilts," she said.

“They would be made in several set designs in the most popular sizes and put into high end shops and website.

“What I am trying to gain is the investment to be able to put that into place.

  (© Ian Georgeson)
via STV via STV

“I use Scottish textiles and Scottish manufacturers so it is an expensive, but that is an important part of my brand. My ethos is 'made in Scotland'.

“I want focus on the contemporary kilts - gents and ladies - that's what I want to focus my brand on.

"My company aim is to bring Scottish dress into the 21st century, that's what exactly what I am trying to achieve within my brand so it meant a lot to me to not only take part but also to win it because that's what I am trying to do in the long term, put a new spin on tartan and Scottish dress."

Top image © Ian Georgeson

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