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There are few things about the decent into Autumn that I enjoy. Rainier, colder days coupled with a distinct lack of sunlight make for a tired feeling and tired looking few months. The Autumnal onslaught did, however, lead me to a rediscovery of a timeless and historical fabric, tweed.
This native of the far-flung Scottish isles became a familiar favourite with the grouse-shooting folk of the early eighteenth century and soon became the staple attire for harsh weather. Steeped in history, tweed is an intricate blend of hundreds of different types of wool and the process has remained relatively unchanged for nearly two hundred years. Then, when Coco Chanel borrowed tweed, formally the fabric for the British gentleman, she transformed it into elegantly cut shapes and beautiful forms. Now tweed saw its rebirth in fashion, first in the 1920s, and then with inexorable fervor from the 1950s on.
Icons such as Jackie Onassis were the first to flaunt tweed and soon after the traditional tailors, Harris of Scotland and Daks, formally Simpsons of Piccadilly, injected some contemporary shapes into their patterns. Since Coco Chanel more and more female designers have taken to the fabric such as Sheila McKain-Waid and Stella McCartney and season upon season it seems to find its way into the shops…and not just as jackets or coats. Urbanears have recently made some Harris Tweed headphones and Nike have released their own tweed high-tops…
Certainly most topical is tweed’s feature role in Chanel’s Little Black Jacket campaign; this new, drooled-over and much hyped tweed jacket is also the central point of an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Where you can see an eclectic mix of models, fashionistas, actors and writers sporting the piece…
Undoubtedly there is an imbued timelessness in this intricately woven wool that ceases to wear-off, excuse the pun. Practical, hardy and warm it has served as a shelter from the elements for elegant women for over a century.
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