Checks appeal

From the highlands to the home, tartan rules the roost. Annie Deakin falls in love with tartan. Literally.

Ever since the chunky lumberjacks of my childhood, I've found tartan, the beloved symbol of kin, completely irresistible. It’s with joy I see the Autumn/Winter 08 collections burst with plaid designs formerly confined to bagpipe players, highland gillies and Edinburgh stag parties.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco.

British designer and self-made It-boy Henry Holland persuaded his best friend, model of the moment Agyness Deyn into a pair of plaid antlers, tartan ball dress and matching eye patch for the catwalk. Dolce & Gabbana, Jaeger, Ralph Lauren and Just Cavalli followed suit. The re-born trend filters from haute couture to furniture.

Home designers Mulberry and Ralph Lauren have sold tartan for years but others like Marcel Wanders, the Dutchman who co-founded Moooi are getting in on the act. He was commissioned by wallpaper merchant Graham & Brown to create tartan couture wallpaper.

Following the examples of Alice Dellal, Mary-Kate Olsen, Kelly Osborne and Peaches Geldof, the trick is to wear tartan sparingly for optimum effect. The same theory applies when dressing the home. Diners should avoid wearing any plaid to the revamped Grill restaurant of London's Dorchester Hotel. It's a paradigm of how not to do tartan. Kitsch and extravagant, tartan covers almost every surface. The yellow ochre walls are embellished with 20ft murals of muscular men in tartan created by painter Mark Beard. The seats are upholstered in tartan which carries onto the carpet. The result? More camp Disneyland than Balmoral.

Like all pleasures in life, tartan - which derives from the French word "tiretaine" - is best served in small doses. Feeling the chill this credit crunch? My design-obsessed colleagues rave about Amara’s tartan daschund draught excluder covered in Mulberry green and pink wool check. "Hamish" as he’s called is not cheap at £95 but we’ve persuaded ourselves it will reduce heating bills. Available at mydeco.com, Mulberry's tartan trays, beanbags and notice boards master the subtle art of tartan in the home.

I’m too young to remember the 70's punk era when provocateurs Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen had their highland flings. Tartan shot from humble to high fashion. But I do remember Naomi Campbell’s tumble on the catwalk in 1993. It wasn’t her 10-inch blue mock croc platforms - which now reside in the V&A - that silenced me but her dashing tartan kilt.

"The fashion industry has gone crazy for tartan. It's great for tourism because every time someone sees tartan, they think of Scotland. The trend has an impact on the luxury tartan market, for people who want their tartan to come from our mills and say 'made in Scotland'," says Brian Wilton, director of the Scottish Tartans Authority.

"Tartan is wonderfully unisex, as well as cosy and stylish," says decorator Nina Campbell. "It really is a great British classic, up there with paisley and chintz." When she used tartan for a bar in New York’s Grand Central Station, she brightened the colours to scarlet, pinks and yellows rather than heavy blues and reds.

Being stuck on a geographical limb hasn’t stopped the Scots from developing an admirable commercial nous. There are over 5,500 tartans on record with new designs being whipped up all the time. Edinburgh-based David McGill designs national tartans for countries all over the world - he recently received orders for a new cherry blossom tartan for the Japanese market.

Agyness Dean wore it down the catwalk, Queen Victoria festooned Balmoral in it, Madonna paraded the stage in it and William "Braveheart" Wallace fought battle in it. Last summer, when I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, standing at the altar was my Scottish husband wearing tartan. Bagpipes blared as I bagged my very own Monarch of the Glen. And so, my childhood love affair came full circle.

Annie Deakin is acting editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea