Katherine Emtage at Concrete Wardrobe

On Saturday evening, Mel and I popped in to the opening of the Spring collection at Concrete Wardrobe. I can’t believe I’ve not mentioned Concrete Wardrobe here before. It is certainly the best place in Edinburgh, and probably the best place in Scotland, to discover all kinds of original things both beautiful and useful from a wide range of superb designer-makers who are all either Scottish born or Scottish trained. Concrete Wardrobe is owned and managed by the very talented James Donald and Fiona McIntosh, and one of the (many) great things that they do is to support and promote the work of young designer-makers, like Katherine Emtage, who is currently their Maker of the Month. Here is Katherine celebrating her opening.


Katherine works with Scottish tweed (Harris, Borders, Mull) to create fabulous — and very contemporary — bags and accessories. One of the first things you sense about her work is that she has a genuine feel for her chosen fabric, and the intriguing possibilities of colour and texture it affords. The way she folds, gathers and quilts the surfaces of her bags not only make them uniquely sculptural, but really showcases the subtle depths of colour so characteristic of handwoven Scottish tweed. Here the waves, pods, and shadows created by the quilting make an apparently solid teal fabric flicker into life with the blues, pinks and yellows of its original individual threads.


While this quilted tote quietly demanded to be felt, some of Katherine’s other designs are much more flamboyantly tactile, like this next handbag, with its uber-feminine excess:


Katherine’s designs really make tweed tasty. Indeed, the sensory metaphors suggested by her careful and thoughtful manipulation of fabric were confirmed by the manner of their display in Concrete Wardrobe: her tweed accessories were set out on cake stands like tempting, edible treats . . .



I love Katherine’s designs: some of her bags are modest and subtle, some are bold and exuberant, but all are playfully original. I had never associated roses and apples with tweed before, but now I do.


Get down to Concrete Wardrobe and see for yourself!