In 1977, fashion designer Bill Gibb brought a Scottish-inspired collection back to his homeland with a special show at the Cowdray Hall at Aberdeen Art Gallery.
The following poem is one of several written as part of my Gibb-inspired spoken word project, The Bill Gibb Line. Eight other poems feature in this special exhibition and film now on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery.
A one-day symposium ‘Fashion, Fantasy and Collaboration: The Legacy of Bill Gibb’ takes place on Friday 20 March in the Cowdray Hall, when I will launch the first episode of The Bill Gibb Line podcast, a limited series featuring all of the poems and a monologue of Gibb telling his own story.
The Cowdray Hall, Aberdeen, 21st October 1977
This season Gibb is serving Scotch on the frocks
with sensual fur bodices and soft lacy shirts
that give tartan the sort of p.m. panache
Bonnie Prince Charlie would fail to match.
Billy bows to royalty by embroidering
thistles and roses on almost everything,
from velvets that spice up subdued tartan skirts
to worsted panels on fabulous fox coats.
Like bagpipes, you need to know how to play
on plaid to make it appealing,
but Gibb has a magical way:
tiny-checked tweeds are softened off
at the neck and knees with a beer froth
of broderie Anglaise, then cosily wrapped
in fan-pleated shawls and topped
with dashing pheasant feathers.
The Stuarts may have been useless
at ruling, but those tartan shawls
could make Jacobites of us all.
A beacon for British fashion, Gibb was greeted
with aching handclaps and echoing whoops
for this bold return to his native roots.
The Bill Gibb Line continues at Aberdeen Art Gallery until 24 May. Admission free. Tickets for the Bill Gibb symposium on 20 March are available at www.aagm.co.uk/whatson