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King Karl's fashion triumph at Linlithgow Palace

THE glamour of a Renaissance court was recreated by Chanel at historic Linlithgow Palace as the fashion house staged its first major catwalk show in Scotland.

MODEL NIGHT: Karl Lagerfeld with a model at the show in Linlithgow Palace. Picture: Mark Mainz
MODEL NIGHT: Karl Lagerfeld with a model at the show in Linlithgow Palace. Picture: Mark Mainz

Aristocratic Scottish model Stella Tennant opened the show wearing a tartan wool overcoat and embellished grey knitwear.

The fashion brand's creative chief Karl Lagerfeld chose the ruin of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, to stage the annual Metiers d'Art show – which showcases the finest creations from Chanel-owned ateliers.

View two photo galleries of Chanel's big night at Linlithgow Palace

Tessa Hartmann: my evening with Chanel

The palace, built in the early-1500s, was decked out with fire pits and rustic wooden benches, from where the world's press watched the show. Guests were draped in tartan blankets to help stave off the evening chill.

Before the show started, waiters in white lace-up shirts served goblets of champagne alongside venison sausage canapes, with atmospheric drum beats playing in the background.

What unfolded next was Karl Lagerfeld's riff on Scottish heritage, featuring tartan, tweed and even miniature sporrans.

Chanel's creative chief appeared to take his main inspiration from Mary, Queen of Scots, and her cousin and arch-nemesis Elizabeth I, with a show featuring feather and lace ruffs and high pleated and curled hairdos that wouldn't have looked out of place in either royal court.

Included also were the finest cashmere creations by Barrie Knitwear, of Hawick – which was bought over by Chanel in October, securing 176 jobs.

Homage was paid to Scotland's country heritage with some Highland-inspired boyish looks featuring ghillie hats, knickerbockers and tartan jumpers that looked like a high-fashion take on the classic golf jumper.

Chanel's classic 2.55 handbag was reinterpreted in worn brown leather, looking as though it had been subjected to a few Scottish downpours.

A few male models joined their female counterparts on the catwalk and were decked out in tartan-print knits and oversized scarves. Brad Koenig was accompanied by his infant son Hudson, with the little boy dressed in a black velvet jacket and cap.

The highlight of the show was a sequence of white gowns, fabricated from wool, chiffon, feathers and lace, that billowed out behind the models as they walked. Together the models looked like a group of virgin brides from Elizabeth I's court.

The show is one of the highlights of the fashion calendar and locations for previous events have included New York, Moscow and Shanghai.

There had been whispers of an A-list celebrity guest list for the event – including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightley – but none made it on the night. However, the show was attended by leading fashion journalists and it-girls including Poppy Delevingne, Caroline Sieber and Joana Preiss.

Also there was Chanel's campaign face Cara Delevingne and top models such as Edie Campbell, Jamie Bochert and Saskia de Brauw. No expense was spared and no detail was overlooked on the night, with chauffeurs ferrying guests from Edinburgh to Linlithgow being told to spritz themselves with Chanel cologne.

It was a right royal triumph, presided over by king of the night, Lagerfeld.

Speaking after the show, Lagerfeld said: "I loved the location and the way the show was staged was exactly what I wanted. It was very interesting to use Linlithgow Palace for a show. I wanted the rough romance of this beautiful place."

Asked about Scotland's influence in the fashion world, Lagerfeld replied: "Chanel came here, she discovered tweed here and the cashmere. Now we've bought Barrie.

"Scottish patterns and tartans are all over the world, so there is a strong identity that everybody likes, uses and copies."

A Scottish love affair

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was introduced to Scotland by the Duke of Westminster who was her lover between 1924 and 1931. He often took her to his numerous estates scattered around the Highlands.

Chanel would often visit Stack Lodge, a rustic fishing lodge on the banks of the River Laxford in Sutherland, occasionally joining Winston Churchill who was a great friend of the duke's. Far away from the social whirl, the three of them would fish, hunt and play cards.

She decorated the duke's Georgian mansion in Sutherland, on the banks of the Cassley River, in her own particular style using wallpaper in different shades of beige, a hand-painted floral motif and a few splashes of green.

Even before Chanel discovered Scotland she was already using Shetland wools for her creations.

From the second half of the 1920s onwards, Chanel's fashion became heavily influenced by the dressing habits of the English aristocracy and by the wardrobe of the Duke of Westminster.

During her frequent visits to the duke's Scottish estates she discovered the tweed jackets that he would wear to go hunting and fishing, as well as his Fair Isle sweaters.

As soon as Chanel discovered Scottish tweed she began using it for sporting outfits, suits and coats.

The tweeds first appeared in Chanel's collection in 1924, but their presence intensified from 1927 onwards.

From the 1920s onwards Chanel was also inspired by tartan, creating her own patterns.

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