Whenever I think of tartan, my mind goes straight to a Ralph Lauren vignette. His layered interiors, fashioning groups of beautifully put-together men and women, surrounded by well-ordered greyhounds always make me a little envious.
I recently suggested a bright, modern take on the traditional tartan wallpaper pattern for a client’s sitting room. During my research I found a growing popularity for tartan patterns being used in contemporary venues. This also got me wondering where it all began.
The words plaid and tartan are often used in unison when describing this iconic pattern and yet they have quite different meanings. Plaid is derived from the Gaelic word for blanket and refers to a length of material that was gathered and belted at the waist to create a clothing item. This plaid was made from a tartan cloth.
The term tartan is used to describe the pattern on the plaid, using interlocking stripes that run in both the warp and the weft of the cloth. The Scots started to develop tartan in the 16th century and by the 18th century, many different patterns were used and documented, with individual clans aligning themselves to a particular pattern.
So, for the all the lovers of tartan (and Ralph) please keep up the good work ….