Style Watch

updated 10/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Fashion is taking a Highland fling these days as celebs dress to the hilt in kilts. This spring, Christy Turlington was mad for plaid while showing off Burberrys' fall look as its pitchwoman. In April, Mariah Carey struck the right note in her thigh-high tartan at Calvin Klein's fall show in New York City. Claudia Schiffer went full kilt at a Hollywood benefit last year for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, while Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell went Celtic at last fall's fashion week in London. "To me," says Isaac Mizrahi, creator of kilts for Sandra Bernhard and model Veronica Webb, "a man's kilt on a woman is a very chic look."

First brought to Scotland by Celtic tribes moving northward as they battled Caesar, the kilt began as a tartan blanket used as a skirt by day and bedding by night. During the 18th century, as the story goes, an English industrialist added tailored pleats and shortened the garment (which, tradition has it, is never to be worn with underwear).

By the late '80s and early '90s, Madonna gave kilts a boost by wearing them over leather jeans, while unlikely laddies Axl Rose and Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis sported the skirts onstage. Since then designers including Anna Sui and Jean Paul Gaultier have fueled the rage by turning out plaid microminis for would-be Lolitas. "The way to wear them," says Kal Ruttenstein, Blooming-dale's director of fashion, "is with thigh-highs and heels or over-the-knee boots. Some people wear them with garters."

That's not to say tradition is being completely ignored. In June, Prince Charles donned his modest knee-length kilt (complete with tweed vest and jacket) while visiting a local distillery on Scotland's Isle of Islay. Still, concedes Ruttenstein, this isn't likely to trigger a trend. "Prince Charles is always ready for kilts," he says laughing, "but you won't be seeing them in boardrooms this fall."

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