Page last updated at 00:26 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Catwalk showcase for Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed on a catwalk
Harris Tweed Textiles clothing being modelled on a catwalk

Fashion designers are to showcase creations made from Harris Tweed at an event aiming to spark fresh interest in the traditional cloth.

Friday's Celebration of Harris Tweed in Stornoway comes just days after the mothballing of the Kenneth MacKenzie mill on the Western Isles.

Operations have been suspended for at least a year and staff paid off.

Work of Scottish designer of the year Deryck Walker is to feature at the Harris Tweed Authority event.

Pieces by Mr Walker and other designers will be modelled on a catwalk at An Lanntair arts centre.

A creation by New York-based Lusmila McColl was also expected to be exhibited.

There are orders coming in from the top end of the fashion market, there are staple orders that have been around for years
Brian Wilson
Shawbost Mill chairman

Following the closure of the Mackenzie mill, two mills remain in production.

The Carloway Mill is run by Harris Tweed Textiles (HTT), while Shawbost is owned by a company whose chairman is former UK Government minister Brian Wilson.

HTT said it was continuing to "push boundaries" with the cloth and was collaborating with designers to promote new uses for it.

Its mill has worked with Lewis designer Ann McCallum, of Hebridean Dreams, who created a Harris Tweed wedding dress.

The lamb's wool tweed gown and a matching coat were worn by Western Isles singer Alyth McCormack at her wedding in Aberdeen in February and will be on display at Friday's celebration.

A spokesman for HTT said: "Harris Tweed Textiles has the Scottish determination to succeed in a global market and we will continue to push Harris Tweed to be used in fresh and innovative ways.

"This event will showcase the exciting designs and versatility of Harris Tweed for au couture, fashion, soft furnishings and more."

wedding dress
A lamb's wool tweed gown was designed for singer Alyth McCormack

Meanwhile, Mr Wilson said he hoped the Kenneth Mackenzie mill would be operating again within a year for the sake of the industry and weavers.

He said the Shawbost Mill was doing well.

The former energy minister told BBC Scotland: "There are orders coming in from the top end of the fashion market, there are staple orders that have been around for years, we are sending out Harris Tweed to 30 countries, we are expanding the uses of it, getting more into interiors and so on.

"So there are absolutely lots of things happening."

Harris Tweed is hand woven by islanders on Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using wool that has been dyed and spun on the islands.

The cloth is protected by a 1993 act of parliament.

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SEE ALSO
Workers paid off as mill closes
03 Mar 09 |  Highlands and Islands
Fund to weave new life into Tweed
20 Jan 09 |  Highlands and Islands

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