Linlithgow Palace swaps history for fashion as designer label unveils latest offerings

Karl Lagerfeld and Stella Tennant. Picture: Mark Mainz
Karl Lagerfeld and Stella Tennant. Picture: Mark Mainz
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Standing in a long line for the lavatory, a fabulously dressed lady in her swinging sixties informs the queue Karl has been trying to get her to one of these events for years.

She is referring to Karl Lagerfeld and the show she speaks of is the Metiers d’Art. It was the hottest ticket in town with people clambering to sneak a peek at the collection that was unveiled at Linlithgow Palace last night. She spoke of her love for Scotland being the sole reason for her attendance at this particular production, that coupled with the fact she only wears Chanel. A concept alien to the masses, but reality for a very privileged few.

A model on the catwalk at the Chanel  show

A model on the catwalk at the Chanel show

The whole evening from beginning to end was decadent to its core, making the little old lady’s Chanel confession pale in comparison. A total of 111 sleek black executive cars from Mercedes to Porsches swept guests from the Caledonian Hotel out to the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and back again. In between that time the most magical night the palace has seen for hundreds of years played out in its gorgeous grounds.

Guests were draped in tartan blankets to stave off the evening chill. Before the show got under way waiters in white lace-up shirts served goblets of champagne alongside venison sausage canapes with atmospheric drumbeats playing in the background.

Fire pits spat flames into the frosty night air on approach. It gave off a real medieval feel to the fortress, and as you wandered through it was like being transported back in time. Chunky church candles led the way inside the grounds to the courtyard that had been transformed into the evenings catwalk.

Guests got to choose their tipple of choice between drams of whisky, chilled glasses of Perrier Jouet champagne or a cheeky wee warmed whisky and ginger beer. Then everyone was ushered to the tiered wooden benches to be seated for the show. There sat a cloth bag containing a pale blue tartan throw with a Thistle embroidered into the wool. The interlocking Cs synonymous with the brand acting as its stalk. This would be a little keepsake from the evening.

A male model and child on the catwalk at the Chanel  show at Linlithgow Palace. Photo by Mark Mainz

A male model and child on the catwalk at the Chanel show at Linlithgow Palace. Photo by Mark Mainz

Scottish model Stella Tennant opened and closed the show reappearing with the Svengali himself, Karl Lagerfeld for a final lap of honour. From there guests were ushered through a usually locked gate of the palace into the back of the grounds where four pipers and two drummers played everyone down to the freshly erected tents glowing at the bottom of the gardens.

It was a truly breathtaking scene as candle light and fire torches flung smoke up into the inky night sky. There was a touch of the surreal about it all, like walking onto a film set for middle earth, except everyone was standing firmly on Linlithgow soil.

Inside the transparent tents the medieval theme continued as round tables filled the room, each one kitted out with heavy silver plates and decorated with fruit and festive looking holly. Chatter inside quickly shifted from show debriefing to whether star guests were turning up. You could hear the murmours from people speculating over Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s arrival. But there was no such sighting, leading everyone to suspect that rumour was nothing more than Chinese whispers gone crazy.

The evening was about fashion not film stars, and quite rightly so. The crowd were a really interesting mix of artists and aristocracy, tapping back into that medieval world that had no place for Hollywood.

The top table consisted of Karl and his harem of muses and models. At another sat David Downton, artist in residence at Claridges. You’ll recognise his work the next time you take your M&S cotton shopping bag with Twiggy’s face illustrated in beautiful black and white on it, as that’s his work. He’s painted everyone from Dita Von Tesse, to Diane Von Frustenburg with the only person ever to elude him being Tom Ford. More fool Mr Ford I say.

Four courses filtered their way from the kitchen to satisfied taste buds and that old cliche about models never eating anything is completely unfounded. A fish course was followed by “short rib pottage”. No-one at the table had a clue what it was until it presented itself at the table as a large hollowed out bread roll filled with soup. A medley of meats from lamb, rabbit to hogs cheeks came next before a cinnamon laden pudding rounded everything off.

While dishes were being cleared up around everyone a little musical surprise in the shape of Jake Bugg jumped on stage to play a live set with his band.

As the crowd went crazy there appeared Mr Lagerfeld as chief groupie sitting front row centre enjoying the impromptu concert at his chic dinner. At the end of the performance he stormed the stage like an excited teenager to thank the young rocker.

A slick DJ followed Bugg’s set as the bright young things danced their dinner off to house music on the stage.

By then it was time to slip away like Cinderella before the fairy tale magic of the night wore off. But that wasn’t before being chauffeur-driven back to my front door from the party.

The other half really do know how to live.


HUNDREDS of Linlithgow residents braved sub-zero temperatures, sleet and snow

in the vain hope of glimpsing

a big-name celebrity attending the Chanel fashion show.

People lined up in droves on either side of the High Street near the main gates to Linlithgow Palace in eager anticipation.

Several businesses took advantage of the crowds and cold weather, enticing waiting people inside with the promise of mulled wine and hot chocolate.

Wilsons’ Newsagent owner George Wilson said being chosen to host the fashion spectacular was a great honour for Linlithgow: “It can’t do any harm. This is a great boost for Linlithgow. It’s world-wide. It’s great for Scotland. We’ve never seen anything like this before, not even when the Queen was here. Some people don’t like it, but I think it’s a great advert for the town.”

Margaret Bennie, owner of shoe store Stomp, said customers had been buzzing about the fashion show for weeks. “I’ve not heard one negative remark about it,” she added.

Linlithgow resident Marjorie Irvine, 60, has worn Chanel perfume for four decades and found a prime position on the guard rails.

She said she did not want to miss history in the making, but suggested: “I think they should have charged a pound for charity and let the town come here the next day to see what he [Karl Lagerfeld] has done.”

Another local, John Fulton, 52, said he was waiting simply out of curiosity, joking: “The wife forced me to come down and take photos. She’s working.”

Richard Scott travelled five miles with daughter Angela Oliver from Polmont hoping for a sight of Hollywood glamour couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Ms Oliver said: “To us it’s just dreich, rainy Scotland, but I guess they look at it from a slightly different point of view.”

Onlookers were ultimately left deflated, with Scottish model Anna Freemantle the only recognisable face spotted as a cavalcade of Ranger Rovers and Mercedes Benz sedans swept by.

Edinburgh resident Hayley Stuart, 28, said the celebrity no-show was understandable given the weather, but added: “It would have been nice to see some famous faces.”

Whisky galore for Karl

CHANEL head designer Karl Lagerfeld treated

his exclusive entourage to 1957 Strathisla single malt whisky at £35 a nip in a lavish pre-show gathering held in the Capital.

About 70 guests, including a host of models, feasted on an eight-course, Scottish-themed tapas menu at Whiski Bar and Restaurant on the Royal Mile on Monday night.

Haggis, venison, salmon and langoustines were all served.

A whisky-tasting opened the night, with a 25-year-old Bunnahabhain single malt one of the preferred choices. Guests were also entertained by live Scottish music.

Whiski Bar and Restaurant owner Gary Still said the event had been “low key”, with Lagerfeld requesting it remain private.

Scottish theme takes the centre stage

THE invitation stated “warm casual chic” for the biggest fashion night of the year and that’s what Linlithgow delivered.

Vintage furs, intricate knitwear and full on feathers resonated from the runway to the guests as the spectacle of the Métiers d’Art came to Scotland.

The collection was rich in colour and texture with Scottish heritage taking centre stage. There was a nod to Mary Queen of Scots as the models sashayed around the courtyard of the Palace. Ethereal Elizabethan collars were given a Chanel twist in opulent pheasant feathers taking Karl Lagerfeld’s love of the collar to new extremes. This Elizabethan fanning also occurred in leather gloves.

Rich tartans teamed with patterned tights had an almost Tudoresque vibe.

Knitwear was king with all kinds of varying degrees of thickness. Chunky Arran patterns sat along side soft cashmere textures, even the tights appeared to be patterned woollen numbers.

It was a real celebration of the fine craftsmanship Chanel have acquired in their most recent take over of Barrie Knitwear.

There was a ton of layering, which won’t be a new concept for Scottish women around about this time of year, but the nice thing was seeing it being celebrated.

Classic tweed coats had a hint of the auld alliance about them slung over woollen frayed skirts accented with tiny Chanel bags in the shape of sporrans. Subdued kilts were hitched to knee level and given a shake up paired with sheer and sequin embroidered v neck jumper.

You could see shadows of previous McQueen collections mix with old school Pringles patterns.

White puff ball sleeved shirts were stuffed under stiff looking tunics topped off with bejewelled accessories around the neck and waist.

Intricate head pieces were weaved into braided hair acting like little crowns.

And as the colours of the Scottish countryside come autumn subsided pure white pieces took their place.

Floor length gowns with full length over coats featuring intricate embroidery swept past in a ghostly fashion with breathtaking effect.

As the whole collection came out for the finale walk the full force of the regal theme took hold. Standing in the courtyard of the Palace you could be forgiven for thinking the model’s were ghost of girls past.

This feeling of deja vu about the collection took over even though it was the first time we’ve seen anything like this from Chanel.