As the sound of Scottish pipes soared through the BFC show space, we knew we were in for a Highland fling.
It’s a challenge for any designer to ‘do Scottish’, the automatic frame of reference will always be Alexander McQueen’s Highland Rape collection, or Vivienne Westwood’s signature print; but Nielsen, with her articulate echoing of traditional Scottish dress made the Stewart clan tartan her own.
Nielsen is known for high drama and historical reference, and for autumn 12 it was the turn of her Scottish ancestry to inspire a collection.
Picture a bagpiper, and where there would normally be a sporran, black mesh panels and peplums did the trick, where one would expect a blanket thrown over the piper’s shoulder, duchess satin was tied asymmetrically, and where there would usually be kilts, well there were still kilts, only Nielsen had introduced a delicate dot and lace overlay detail which had fashionable appeal.
Collars were either, high and conical - almost Victorian, or were swaddled in monochromatic tartan. Cuts were sculptured and sharp, with waists nipped by peplums and pencil skirts, while wool pleated kilts soften the mood.
As that mood darkened from day-to-night, Scottish widows marched to the eerie pipes in huge undulating, sculptured duchess satin gowns and navy widow’s capes. We saw elements of this in the designers autumn 11 collection, and now Nielsen has further cemented her handwriting.
In fact she made an interesting transition this season, of course the show still had bundles of theatre, but the collections commerciality had not been ignored, with layered seperates such as detailed blouses, the skirts and shirting a key feature in the line-up. It appears Nielsen wants to create and sculpt, but more importantly wants to sell. It looks like that Fashion Fringe mentoring is paying off.