"Subculture is about people taking certain garments and putting them into their own uniform, in little groups of people. It’s about being true to what you like.” So says Samantha McCoach, who is injecting a no-holds-barred spirit into her fast-rising label Le Kilt, drawing as much inspiration from her Scottish roots as she does the off-kilter femininity of her punk heroines. “The whole thing started because my grandmother, who was a traditional kilt-maker, made me a little black kilt as a gift and it triggered a memory,” the designer says. “She used to make me dresses out of old pieces of tartan that her boss had given away.”
Sustainability is at the core of Le Kilt, with McCoach using only ethically sourced wool. “I think (young brands) should lead by example and they’ve got all the resources to do that,” she says. “It’s about finding new and creative ways to progress brands sustainably.” It’s this attitude that led to Selfridges tapping McCoach for Material World, a group project in which Le Kilt and seven other brands focused on sustainability were asked to conceptualise window displays at the store’s flagship Oxford Street branch in London (for her window, McCoach used wool sourced from exclusively UK-based mills).
Harmoniously tying together the worlds of artisanal craft and female rebellion, Le Kilt is a label rooted in juxtaposition. Her grandmother isn’t the only inspirational woman in McCoach’s life; she designs for powerful figures like Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson (“She is kind of bonkers!”) and former Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon. For AW16, oversized safety pins and fetishistic leather chokers set the agenda.
“A lot of people say I’m really influenced by punk, and I am, but in a much more subtle way,” she observes. “My mum was really glamorous growing up; she worked on make-up counters. I wore patent shoes up until I was 15 because she wouldn’t let me wear trainers. (So) for me, punk was the tiniest hole in a pair of tights. I’m quite a contradiction.”
Hair Paul Donovan at CLM using Redken, make-up Andrew Gallimore at CLM for Nars, set design Andrew Lim Clarkson, model Maren Behringer at Girls Club Management, lighting assistant Valérie Probst, styling assistant Ioana Ivan, set design assistant Izzy Parker, production Artistry London, production assistant Marsida Rexhepaj, post-production Valter Törsleff, casting Svea Greichgauer
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