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Linda-Marie Singer is The Live Wire

Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge
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Puttin’ On The Glitz at the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

Elegance in Black and White by Jonathan Saunders - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Elegance in Black and White by Jonathan Saunders - photo by Linda-Marie Singer

Edinburgh, Scotland:  “…It’s simply ‘top-thing’ to be there and hear them swapping smart tidbits…” To paraphrase Irving Berlin, the inaugural Edinburgh International Fashion Festival was all about Puttin’ on the Glitz, a four-day happening of glamorous shows, events, and important forums all available to the public.  The opening night gala showcased the work of Vivienne Westwood, one of the most influential designers in the world who has used Scotland’s key textiles on catwalks over the decades.  Then there was the major extravaganza of “Elegance in Black and White,”a collection by Scottish born Jonathan Saunders known for his engineered prints with traditional silk-screen techniques.  Also taking shape was British trendsetter Matthew Williamson’s “Colour, Pattern and Form.” The Bohemian designer, inspired by the colorful palette of India, enjoys a celebrity following that includes Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan and Keira Knightley.  What drew him to Edinburgh was the city’s “perfect match for the glamour and theatre of fashion.”
Vivienne Westwood's Chain Mail Male  - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Vivienne Westwood's Chain Mail Male - photo by Linda-Marie Singer
Vivienne Westwood's Lady in Red  - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Vivienne Westwood's Lady in Red - photo by Linda-Marie Singer
Vivienne Westwood's Man in Kilt, an instant symbol of Scotland - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Vivienne Westwood's Man in Kilt, an instant symbol of Scotland
photo by Linda-Marie Singer
Vivienne Westwood Threesome  - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Vivienne Westwood Threesome
 photo by Linda-Marie Singer

Unlike the frenzied atmosphere of the more renown shows, ticket holders to the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival were able to buy the latest trends straight off the runway, and attend lectures that featured top designers as well as rising talent.  Among the up and coming headliners were Alan Gallacher, known for his handcrafted scarves in cashmere and lambswool, Eribé, whose knitwear design features luxury 100% pure Scottish cashmere inspired by icons of the 1940s, and the flamboyant Joey D whose creations range from punk to funky retro worn by Elton John. 

Zoe Neilson, apprentice for Vivienne Westwood  - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Zoe Neilson, apprentice for Vivienne Westwood
 photo by Linda-Marie Singer

Shirley Pinder presented a versatile range of scarves, wraps and throws, and Sally-Ann Provan Millinery featured theatrical costumes and edgy accessories heavily inspired by eighteenth-century dress.  Coinciding with “The Da Vinci Code,” Kirsteen Stewart unveiled her screen-prints inspired from sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci.

According to Colin McDowell, the event’s artistic director and Senior Fashion Writer for The Sunday Times Style, “Edinburgh has been a destination city for tourists, and now it’s time to think of it as a shopping destination.  The Scots are extremely fashion conscious and it’s my dream that designers will come to Edinburgh to show their collections first.   It’s time to move fashion away from London, Paris, New York and Milan,” he said.  “Maybe this sounds too pompous, but Scotland is a country with its own vibrant culture and distinctive creativity.  There is a huge potential for interesting and exciting things to happen in years to come as this festival develops.”

Into the looking glass - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Into the looking glass
photo by Linda-Marie Singer


Amid the popping of strobes, sellout crowds paid a modest $75.00 for major catwalks and a chance to peek at all the “walking pictures” usually reserved for the experts and insiders, buyers or the press.  As an added bonus, once the show was over people had a chance to mingle with some of the stars of the fashion world at The Opal Lounge. “The thing to remember is that we’re not competing with Paris or Milan,” said Colin McDowell. “We are showing people the crème de la crème and offering them things they can buy and afford.”

Leading off with Vivienne Westwood’s “Fabric of Scotland,” it was the British Avant-garde designer who splashed on the scene in the 1970s with a bondage craze created for the Sex Pistols.  But here in Edinburgh she presented an array of fashionable tartans and tweeds along with velvet, linen and lace worn by a sizzling array of models in silver mesh bodices and hot, radical kilts.  “Incredible clothing can transform a life,” she says.  “Take the kilt, an instant symbol of Scotland.  It’s a wonderful garment on its own, but tartans are absolutely brilliant…It is a heroic image, the kilt flying and the idea of climbing mountains in this garb with the wind blowing at you.”  Long a fashion icon, Westwood’s designs are worn today by Gwyneth Paltrow, Marilyn Manson, Gwen Stefani and Madonna.

People backstage like Anne Anderson of Export Focus helped provide a platform on home ground for Scottish-based designers.  With the establishment of The Marketplace, people had two-days to look over in vogue work without having to go to London.  “With this inaugural Fashion Jamboree, the public had exclusive access to exciting fashions and accessories as well a chance to meet the designers themselves” Anderson said.

Pair of Westwoods - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Pair of Westwoods
photo by Linda-Marie Singer


Perhaps that’s why Edinburgh, once thought as dowdy and unfashionable, now joins the fashion map.  Designers agree.  Sally-Ann Provan participated in the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival for promotional reasons.  “I wanted to heighten my profile,” she says “and hopefully make some sales.  I feel I did really well on that front.”  Kirsteen Stewart explained the value of talking to the public and retailers interested in stocking her work.  But the affair also attracted teenage talent, notably Zoé Neilson who has been selected as an apprentice for Vivienne Westwood.  Having attended all the major catwalks, the seventeen-year-old echoes the view that fashion talent is indeed coming out of Scotland.  “The very good news is that young designers like Jonathan Saunders can choose to stay here or go to one of the fashion cities, but whatever they decide, it will result in a positive contribution to fashion.”

With the festivities gearing up for next year plus the good buzz this year, Colin McDowell likes to hear people call Edinburgh “a small-scale fashion haven.”  McDowell, who has seen catwalks looking like cakewalks, lets the audience know that the fashion world is indeed changing starting with Edinburgh.  “In my time I have seen some amazing things coming down runways, and I’m always sorry the general public doesn’t get to see them.  This festival proved that’s not the case.  Surely if you have not heard about Edinburgh, you’re going to.”

Strike a pose.


With Colin McDowell, artistic director of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival - click to enlarge
With Colin McDowell, artistic director of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

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VisitBritain Phone: 800-462-2748 

How to get there:

American Airlines 767 seats rows of two, three, and two.  Requesting a two-seater row is as close to Business Class without the price.  American’s partners include British Airways and between them, you’ll have a good choice of flights from America to Heathrow and Manchester.  From there it’s an easy one-hour flight to Edinburgh.

Where to stay:

The Bonham 
35 Drumsheugh Gardens 
Edinburgh, EH3 7RN. 

Phone: 0131 274-7400

Singles from $139.00  Small double $167.00. Suites $278.00 with full Scottish breakfast included.  Overlooking tree-lined gardens and situated in Edinburgh’s West End, the hotel is a short walk to the city’s shops and boutiques, financial district, and Edinburgh Castle.  Regarded as one of the finest hotels in Edinburgh, The Bonham was recently named as Scottish Boutique Hotel of the Year.

Edinburgh Castle - photo by Linda-Marie Singer - click to enlarge
Edinburgh Castle
photo by Linda-Marie Singer

The Balmoral
1 Princes Street
Edinburgh EH2 2EQ 

Phone: 44 (0) 870 460-7040

All 168 rooms and 20 suites combine contemporary elegance with The Balmoral’s strong sense of history.  Several bedrooms and suites have views of Edinburgh Castle, the Sir Walter Scott Monument and Princes Street.   Rooms start at $500.  Superior Deluxe King Castle View is $787.  Presidential Suite costs $2,800.  Scottish breakfast is an additional $35.00.

Where to dine in Edinburgh:

Restaurant at the Bonham
35 Drumsheugh Gardens 

Phone: 0131 274-7400

Winner of “The Scottish Hotel Lunch of the Year Award 2006,” the restaurant features many delicious items for the palette including Aubergine Caviar Wrap and Pan-fried fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef. 

The Grain Store Restaurant in the Old Town
30 Victoria Street
(1st floor) offers an international menu in comfortable surroundings.

Phone: 0131 225 7635

The Balmoral Hotel
1 Princes Street

Phone: 01144 131 556-2424 

A luxury hotel located in Edinburgh’s main shopping area next to Waverly Station.  Choose from the hotel’s Michelin-starred number one restaurant with outstanding cuisine provided by Chef Jeff Bland; Hadrian’s for chic and informal dining.  Palm Court for cocktails or tradition afternoon tea and NB’s Bar for a relaxing drink with live entertainment. 

The Fourth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols
30-34 St. Andrews Square


Harvey Nichols department store dabbles in clothing for the chic at heart.  The Fourth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols offers a delectable and varied cuisine along with a 360-degree panoramic view of the capital city.

Hotel Packages:

The Bonham hotel in Edinburgh has teamed up with Festival City Theatres and The Edinburgh Playhouse to offer a cultural theatre break.  “Edinburgh Theatre Breaks” includes two nights luxury accommodation, Full Scottish breakfast, 3-course dinner on one night, Top price tickets to the show of your choice, and Taxi transfer to the theatre.  Cost is $409 per person.  Email:

“A Floating Palace.”  The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the world’s most famous ships serving the Royal Family for forty-three years.  Britannia is now permanently moored in Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith.  Combine a stay at the Bonham with an exclusive visit to the City’s most Royal attraction.  Per night the package is $184 per person and includes Luxury Accommodation, Full Scottish breakfast, Complete tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia, and Taxi transfer to the Royal Yacht.  Email:

Tours and Activities:

I can already hear the bagpipes at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo from August 4-26.  Celebrate the Army in Scotland with the largest gathering of Pipes and Drums ever on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.  Tickets from $20.00.  Email:

All-inclusive Edinburgh Pass takes you on busses and includes a ride to the airport bus transfer.  Access to over twenty-five attractions, free guidebook, plus over twenty-five exclusive offers.  One-day pass is $37.00.  Web:, and·       

Edinburgh Bus Tours offers city sightseeing on double decker buses. Hop on and off at your leisure.  $16.00 for adults and $36.00 for family.  Ticket includes admission to the Edinburgh Castle, The Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Royal Yacht Britannia and two days of unlimited travel on all tour buses.  The price for Adults is $60.00 for two days, $45.00 for students, and $22.00 for children fifteen and under.  Web:

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2007.  Web:

Edinburgh International Film Festival, August 13-September 3. Web:

For more information contact:

VisitBritain: 800-462-2748
Web:  http://

Your Personal Guide in Scotland:

Fraser Gordon is one of the most versatile, fun, and informative guides in Scotland.  He will greet you wearing a kilt and tell you all about the history and culture of the country.  

Phone: 00 44-(0)790982-4323.

All Photos by:  Linda-Marie Singer

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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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