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Photography Rosaline Shahnavaz
Dazed Exclusive: Le KiltPhotography Rosaline Shahnavaz

How 90s girl power icons inspire this emerging designer

We meet Sam McCoach of Le Kilt, who channels the punk femininity of Shirley Manson, The Raincoats and The Slits – take an exclusive look the brand’s SS16 collection

Tomorrow, London Fashion Week sees the launch of Le Kilt’s Shirley Manson inspired SS16 collection, Stupid Girl. It’s the result of an enduring infatuation the label’s founder, Sam McCoach, has had with Garbage’s auburn-haired frontwoman. According to the music-obsessed McCoach, the singer has always been her style icon and will be offering a heady dose of 90s Shirley via short hemlines and fishnets. As the designer put the finishing touches to her leopard prints and scotch tartans, we visited her East London studio to find out more about Manson and the women that inspire her.


“What I find most inspiring about Shirley Manson is her attitude to style. What she believes makes a woman stylish has nothing to do with her actual clothes. There’s a great quote where she says, ‘What makes a woman’s style is what she has to say and how she chooses to live her life.’ and that’s always resonated with me. I reckon the way Shirley Manson chooses to live her life and put together her style is exactly how she wants it to be.

Also, I just totally love the way she embraced beauty and femininity in a music world that was grunge heavy and about androgyny. She would wear colourful miniskirts paired with chunky boots, fishnets and bold make-up; usually red lips and smokey charcoal blue eye shadow. Actually, I read somewhere that before Garbage, she’d worked behind a beauty counter and has a bit of an obsession with make-up, which is funny because I do too. I worked for Lancôme when I was 16 for about five years before moving to London and my mum’s worked in beauty forever.”


“Femininity is very much part of Le Kilt and that stems from the femininity found in punk and post punk. As hard as these movements were in their attitude, the aesthetic was pretty girly. I love the way girl groups like The Raincoats and The Slits took the raw influence of punk and combined it with eyeliner, leopard print and glitter. Also, women like Debbie Harry and Kim Gordon (though Sonic Youth came later) are so influential for me. They championed themselves as females and were feminine but didn’t take any shit whatsoever, and that’s what the SS16 collection, Stupid Girl, and the label is all about.”


“Le Kilt actually started because of my granny. I was going through a bit of a dark patch in my personal life and she made me this tiny black kilt for Christmas to cheer me up. She was a kilt maker for like 40 years and used traditional techniques to make it for me. Every time I wore it people kept asking me, ‘How can I get one?’ so we started making them for my friends as well. 

I then decided to make a mini collection of twelve kilts, in twelve tartans, all the same size and length, did a little photoshoot and threw a party at the Old Blue Last. The party was like a presentation in a way, but had nothing to do with LFW. It was whilst I was still designing full-time at Fred Perry and I just put some money behind the bar that I’d saved up and invited my mates to come down. Turns out someone wrote about the party in the Guardian, Le Kilt found momentum and two seasons in, I’ve now left my job.”