LINLITHGOW was the epicentre of the fashion world this week as Chanel decadence descended on the town.
The Palace and Peel were chosen by creative designer Karl Lagerfeld (pictured, right) as the perfect backdrop for his 2012/13 Metiers D’Art collection, paraded around the courtyard of the regal ruin, which hasn’t seen such opulence since the days of the Stuart kings.
The annual fashion show, previously showcased in Paris, Tokyo and London, cost an estimated £2 million to create, with a wooden catwalk built around the open Palace courtyard, festooned with eight braziers blazing against the cold wind and a structure reminiscent of an Elizabethan theatre.
Around 400 guests, including Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop and West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr, but unfortunately no Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, were seated alongside international press and fashionistas on wooden benches surounding the courtyard.
With the dress code ‘‘warm casual chic’’, fur coats and vintage Chanel- clad guests wandered the Palace as drams of whisky, glasses of Perrier Jouet and warming whisky and ginger were served up, alongside titbits of venison, smoked salmon and Lanark blue cheese vol au vents.
Around 7pm the show began to the beat of a bodhran with Scottish model Stella Tennant first to tread the boards around the striking James V fountain, in a collection that stretched back into Scottish history, reinventing the styles for a new generation.
In designs that channelled Mary Queen of Scots, hair was plaited high and decorated in rich costume jewellery, setting off high collars, ruffles, bows and puff ball skirts.
The rough and the smooth were contrasted with flowing silk and cashmere, worn with leather, tartan, plaid and Fair Isle knits, in layered combinations that would keep any Scottish snow flurries at bay.
Karl Lagerfield joined Stella Tennant for the final lap, adding his own bit of history to Linlithgow, often described as the ‘‘jewel in the crown’’ of West Lothian.
To celebrate the show, guests were guided through the re-opened east entrance and greeted by a magical vision of fire and dimly lit fog to the accompaniment of the bagpipes. With braziers surrounding the loch and firebrands lighting the way to the candle-lit glass village at the heart of the Peel, the drizzle only added to the atmosphere. Four pipers and two drummers played from the mound facing the Palace as guests walked to the medieval banquet where wooden seats and tables were draped with fruit and decadent courses were served alongside the finest wine and champagne. A highlight of the rich six course feast was the hearty rib pottage eaten out of a rustic bread bowl.
Singer-songwriter Jake Bugg brought the fantasy to a close but the memory of Linlithgow at its best remained.
Invited guests included Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore, French Ambassador Monsieur Bernard Emié, Clan Chief of Scotland Sir Malcolm and Lady MacGregor of MacGregor, Earl and Countess of Cawdor, Viscount and Viscountess of Petersham, the Earl and Countess of Moray, and Lord and Lady Hopetoun. Actresses Alicia Vikander, Anna Mouglalis, Amira Casar, and models Poppy Delevingne, Joana Preiss and Caroline Sieber were also there.
Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop said: “The Metiers d’Art in Linlithgow Palace was a fabulous event and showcased the venue and the Peel to the invited global audience of journalists, designers and fashion experts who came to our town to see next year’s collection.
“The Palace was looking stunning and certainly gave all those who were there an impressive and lasting memory of the historic site, the town and Scotland. The historic nature of the Palace and the fashions of tweeds, cashmeres and tartans were the perfect complement to each other.”
She also thanked the Linlithgow community for welcoming Chanel, despite the disruptions and closures.