Fashion’s Icon Origin

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The year is 537 BC (Before Celtic). Frolicking in a thick thistle field, Angus McDougall shrieks with such gusto that his cry is heard in a neighbouring valley by his good friend Lachie Tartain. A few hours later (although the definition of “hour” was not actually known at that stage in time), a hairy bare bottomed Lachie quickly dashes to his friend to identify the origin of his voluminous outburst of consternation.

He quickly finds his friend sitting cross-legged in a grassy field with deep scratch marks that not even Angus’s copious hairy legs could conceal. To his great alarm, Angus was still fuming in a Celtic expletive dialect that was quickly expanding even Lachie’s quite broad vocabulary. “Enough is Enough” Angus shouts, pointing to his thistle beaten legs, with his hands strategically pointing higher up his body with a manly concern regarding his long term procreative dignity. “Give me a flint, let’s burn the whole of this thistle infested terrain down for the sake of future Celtic generations!”

Just as the flint was about to ignite a massive bonfire positioned centrally in the obstreperous thistle field, a thoughtful representative from the formidable King’s Guard just happened to be passing by and loudly proclaimed the “26th Law of the Celtic land” that prohibited any incineration that might affect Scotland’s natural heritage. “Stop in the name of the King you hair embellished man!” to which Angus immediately ceased his destructive thistle life endangering combustible plan.

Angus quickly rebutted with yet another rich array of complex Celtic expletives and pointed emphatically at his red, bleeding legs. A real Celtic “barnie” was about to eventuate, but thankfully Lachie quickly interjected before any dangerous use of the large, sharp thistle held in Angus’s hand could be thrust in a very forceful manner into the annoying King’s Guard’s body.

Fortunately, Lachie had a curt cunning plan that would provide the perfect solution. He pulled the monochromatic saddle cloth off the horse of the King’s Guard and quickly wrapped it around Angus’s legs. With a look of dismay, Angus used the cloth to wipe the red blood, and the green and yellow thistle smears from his body, and then threw it vehemently back in the direction of the King’s Guard. The cloth landed flat and unfurled on the rough Celtic landscape. All three men looked in wonder at the criss-crossed coloured patterns that Angus had created.

Yes, my dear readers, this was the origins of the Celtic tartan. In what was typical Lachie Tartain fashion, he claimed the idea as his own, but through the passage of time, the Tartain eventually became the well-loved “tartan” (with the dropping of the “i”) that all Celts now claim as their own. Yes, it is indeed a “true” story, or so I’m told.

NB: But the “i” was never forgotten. If you listen to a Scotsman or Scotswoman today, the word “aye” (aka the “i” from the Tartain) still lingers which accurately personifies a true Celt, complete with his or her own tartan.

It’s That Fabric

Tartan Dress

The year is 649 BC. Snuggled in front of the large open fire sits a cross-legged, middle-aged Celtic man with a scruffy reddish beard. He has just received his invitation to the official lamb annual sacrifice and he is all in a quandary as to what to wear for such a significant occasion. He looks rather forlornly at his tatty worn breaches and looks deep into the glowing wood embers for some fashion inspiration whilst quietly sipping on a wee dram of a noxious fermented barley brew. After a few hours, his throat is scourged of all feeling, his beard is nearing the stage of spontaneous combustion and his eyes are wishing they were positioned in the back of his head so as to avoid the fierce radiant heat. But with a surprising, and somewhat unexpected experience, a creative and unplanned thought begins to permeate and develop.

The year is 689 AD. A fierce battle is being fought in the land of Killiecrankie. Leading the charge is a gallant man called McDonnell. He, and his band of impressive warriors, are bamboozling the enemy with a distinctive coloured uniform that flaps loudly with repetition in the cold Scottish highland wind against their large hairy thighs as they confront their foes with swords extended.

The year is 2015 AD. A young woman walks along the platform of a London underground tube station wearing a patterned red dress that turns many a head yielding a look of awe and bashful uncertainty. The pattern is traditional, complements her lipstick, and is minimal in fabric volume and body coverage. However, the wearer is not perturbed, as it has achieved the required visual objective of individual differentiation.

Yes, there is only one fabric that can achieve all of the above unique personal requirements, and more! This fabric is a creative combination of different colours, lines and squares that the observer could only assume was initially a creative mistake. Yet, it was not made in error. No, it is a handiwork of true fashion innovation and one that has travelled successfully throughout the ages and will continue well into the future.

It is known by the name of “tartan” and it is immediately recognisable by populations and cultures across the globe. It identifies the wearer with a persona of difference, and one that is prepared to cross the boundaries of tradition, particularly in this day of corporate fashion conservatism.

So, next time you are trying to instil and propagate a culture of innovation in your corporate organization, the choice is simple. Wear a tartan item of clothing, and you will be noticed and definitely not forgotten!

Appearances are indeed everything?

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Ok, it was agreed, I would be “Fabian Rizzo”, the famous ballet dancer from New York (USA), Fabian would be me, “Steven Cramer”, the “alleged founder” of the world renowned “Dram” whiskey distillery in Pitlochery (Scotland).

We would meet at the select, and might I add, very exclusive Melbourne socialite dinner party at different times and collect “our” nametags and then the personality pretence would commence in earnest.

I arrived first, wearing a strikingly loud, and as equally wide, pinstripe suit complemented with a white linen tight fitting shirt with the top three buttons undone allowing my copious chest hairs freedom to peruse all observers. I did think that my bright purple socks where a tad over the top, but they seemed to work well with my thin black pointy leather shoes. Maybe the orange floral handkerchief was a little too metrosexual, but what the heck, I was “Fabian Rizzo” after all, wasn’t I!

As I arrived at the well-staffed dinner party reception table and announced my name, I was immediately swarmed over by a large number of the “beautiful people”, many of which were obviously fashion models, and to my relief, the majority of them were woman!

But my famous nametag wouldn’t be sufficient to ensure a successful evening, I had to “act the Fabian” so my walk, voice delivery and other unique mannerisms needed to prevail. The more I delved into the character, the more responsive my audience of vast admirers responded and the greater my performance. Yes, I did have a successful night, but that part will remain private, after all, one can never be sure who is actually reading these blog posts!

But I was only half the story. “Steven Cramer” also arrived at the reception table about thirty minutes after “Fabian Rizzo”, dressed in a fashionable and unpretentious dark tartan suit. His business shirt did portray some loud chunky gold cufflinks, and a tie with a full Windsor knot adorned his shirt. With a loud and deep toned Scottish accent (which sounded quite authentic by the way), he announced his name. After a brief few seconds, he was then quickly surrounded by an array of other professional looking men and woman who had a look of financial affluence and success wofting from their persona. However, to the trained eye (mine in this case, who was watching from the other side of the room), they were a gabble of bankers, stock market analysts, politicians, lawyers, a couple of alcoholics who were seeking the possibility of a fine “Dram” drop prior to making it to the dinner reception, and a variety of other “unclassified hangeronerers”. “Steven Cramer” was brilliant as he announced his market predictions for the upcoming whiskey market and provided his confidential and creative insights on what made a good glass of the Scottish liquor. Rumours were that he also managed to have quite a successful evening from various anonymous reports the following morning.

Now you may be wondering how these exploits of disguise benefit those that work in the corporate office or any other organization? Well, it all comes down to how people become fixated with the personal image associated with an individual and whether it is really deserved or not. It is quite common for employees to be impressed by a manager’s job title and play along accordingly thinking that they might benefit from the association. Some people tend to be too easily fooled by the public “label” that disguises the person wearing it, and should focus more on the actual person inside the “labelled garment”.

It is also interesting to observe from a third person perspective just how your co-workers actually view you as exemplified by this famous “Fabian Rizzo” and “Steven Cramer” role reversal. Similarly, whether these colleagues are really interested in you, or the role you portray?

PS: In case you were wondering, yes, “Fabian Rizzo” and “Steven Cramer” did indeed compare notes the following morning and the learnings were quite interesting for both individuals.