I am deep in research and writing at the moment, and thought I’d keep bringing you some of my incidental finds and thoughts as I come across them. Searching through online images of French fashion magazines from the first few decades of the last century (as one does) recently, I came across several references to ‘la mode Ecossaise’, and was intrigued by the sleek 1920s fashions that I found. All too often, ideas of Scotland and Scottishness inspire fashion that tends toward the predictably nostalgic, but I was interested to find that, in the 1920s “Ecossaise” in fashion seems a watchword for urban modernity. These fashion illustrations of 1920s tartan suggest an idea of “Scottish” aesthetics that’s much more Stanley Cursiter – or even Mondrian – than Monarch of the Glen – how refreshing!

Gazette du bon ton, 1922.

tresparisien1924 copy
Tres Parisien, 1924


Art, Gout, Beaute, 1924


Tres Parisien , 1925

Image at top of post from Femina Modes, 1914

38 thoughts on “La Mode Ecossaise

  1. At this time wasn’t Charles Rennie Mackintosh (and other members of the Glasgow School) exhibiting and bringing cutting edge Scottish design to Europe? CRM had greater recognition abroad than South of the border.


  2. Have you seen the French magazine archives at http://patrimoine.editionsjalou.com/ ? In particular L’Officiel de la Mode and L’Art et la Mode have decades of wonderful images and articles.

    I, too, wore kilts as a child here in Australia (think they were very popular in the 1970’s). The ones I wore as a preschooler were a pleated tartan skirt stitched to a white woven cotton singlet. You were supposed to wear a jumper over the singlet part so no-one could see it, but invariably you got hot running around playing and needed to take your jumper off (if your mum would let you!).

    Thanks for your always-interesting blog


  3. Kate, I just love all the bits and pieces you manage to continually turn up on knitting, and wool. Thank you for always sharing your wealth of research and knowledge.


  4. Wonderful ! I own a set of 1928 fashion plates, coming directly from my grandmother’s attic. I love the caption on the first one: l’heure du footing. Years later, footing meant jogging. But these ladies are walking about in gorgeous “ensembles”. Now that’s a footing I can relate to. I so love the 20s, thanks for sharing these.


  5. I can’t help noticing that the “Gazette du bon ton” includes car crash and drowning in the usual holiday fun! (accidents d’automobiles (…) noyades en mer et autres plaisirs de vacances) No doubt the writer is trying his “humour anglais” skills! And am I seeing a Gawthorpe inspired garment on the second picture?!
    Greetings from Switzerland.


  6. Fascinating! The caption for the image from Très Parisien 1924 mentions ‘broderie écossaise’. I know what ‘broderie anglaise’ is, but not this: does anyone have any more information?


  7. Thank you for sharing the magazine illustrations. Isn’t it interesting to note that the illustration models, though obviously exaggerated for design purposes, seem to be replicated in the real life models of today? :)


  8. To follow with Les toiles des neiges’s comment about wearing kilts, I remember that when I was a teenager ( I am French, and older ) girls wore twin-sets with yokes knitted in shetland wool. And that boys and girls would say ” Mon pull shetland” ( My Shetland sweater) as now some would say ” mon pull cachemire”.
    That was the minute down memory lane…
    Thank you for your always interesting articles and beautiful pictures.


  9. Hi Kate,
    I’ve been following your blog “silently” for the last couple of years. You inspire me a lot. I also like your blog entries very much, and I like Bruce.
    I’m a passionate Swiss knitter and also wanted to tell you, that a kilt was always an important part of our childhood wardrobe. We always wore them for Christmas with white stockings and dark blue sweaters. I still like the kilt-style skirt very much.
    Kind regards, Alexa


    1. Alexa, I’m irish & I wore exactly that too! My navy jumper was a dense knitted slim fitting jumper & it was either irish or Scottish. Forgotten the name. Navy & red kilt.


  10. I can’t stay without speaking : I am french, I am 40 years old and when I was young, 9 yo about, I weared kilts! the fashion was to wear skirts with this famous scotish fabric. and now. ..I buy this fabric for my daughters ! la mode écossaise est intemporelle!


    1. Me too. I’m a few years older, but I do remember the kilt with the safety pin as a closure and ornament. The only problem was that I was the only one wearing this at school, when every one else was wearing jeans.


      1. Same here, Miss Agnes! I didn’t get my first pair of jeans until I was about 12 and my mom signed me up for the new girls softball league in our community–a rather traumatic experience for this bookish child. In any event, I still miss my kilt pin–it would make a great shawl pin!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. They are truly wonderful designs Kate. I live in France and my knitter neighbour just loves to see the hats I have knitted with your designs. The Shetland wool is very well known here in France for being of wonderful quality and comes in such wonderful colours.


  12. Oh, these are fabulous. The ’20s are one of my favorite periods for fashion, in any case, but these looks are all so enviable. The tartan dress at the left of the Très Parisien 1924 picture actually resembles dresses I wore and loved in my girlhood, except that mine were mini-length worn with opaque tights. And I’ve just noticed that the illustration is titled “Schoolgirls” – perfect!


  13. Some of these look perfect for The Tweed Run, a cycling event I’ve only just discovered and have every intention of doing next year. Everybody dresses up in their finest vintage tweeds, goes for a sedate cycle around various London landmarks – stopping for tea and a picnic on the way – and ends up in Hyde Park for a big party. If I can possibly knit a Fair Isle specially for it, I’m going to!


  14. You need a final e; it’s La Mode Ecossaise! Because the word mode is feminine.. Just thought you might want to know..

    Sent from my FiPhone!!



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