Caroline Young and Lynn Wilson take a comprehensive look at the history of tartan, from its origin in the Scottish Highlands to its reinvention in both street fashion and haute couture to mimic aristocracy or act as a symbol of rebellion.

The history and legacy of Scotland's textile heritage is most evident in the hundreds of different tartans found in every corner of the world. Its cultural appropriation has been at the forefront of fashion movements championed by designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. What is it about this fabric and its origins that have made it so enduring?


Two images above: Pieces by designer Judy R Clark © David Stanton 

Caroline Young is a writer and author specialising in fashion and film history. As well as co-authoring Tartan and Tweed, she is the author of Style Tribes: The Fashion of Subcultures and Classic Hollywood Style, all published by Frances Lincoln.

Lynn Wilson is a textile designer and circular economy specialist. Until recently Lynn was the Sector Manager, Manufacturing at Zero Waste Scotland. Lynn was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2015 visiting Japan, researching circular economy textile technology, heritage and design practices. Lynn is currently a research student at the Adam Smith Institute where she has been awarded an ESRC PhD scholarship in collaboration with the Ethical Consumer Research Association.

Award-winning designer Judy R Clark will showcase a selection of her exquisite hand tailored womenswear designs comprising of Harris Tweeds, tartans, Scottish lace and antique fabric.

Tartan suit by Vivienne Westwood 

Above left: Suit in Bruce of Kinnaird tartan, part of the Anglomania collection designed by Vivienne Westwood, London, autumn/winter 1993/1994.

Header image and above right: Short tartan frock coat with velvet collar and cuffs and lined in wool twill and linen, supposedly belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie: mid-18th century.

Explore more

Jacobites blog posts

Go behind the scenes of our major exhibition, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

Discover a compelling story of loyalty, loss, rebellion and retribution in this major exhibition.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites events

Explore our programme of events exploring the themes of the exhibition Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.
Event information


30 Sep 2017
14:00–15:00 (doors open 13:45)


Auditorium, Level 1

How much

Free, but booking required

Booking information

Age 14+

Book in person at our museums, call 0300 123 6789 or book online

Book online
Back to top