My story begins in 1951, in the most northerly point of the Hebrides. A place called Port of Ness on the Isle of Lewis. My father was a boatbuilder – still is – and my mother ran a knitwear business. The sea, craftsmanship, cooking and wool, those great anchors of Hebridean life, infused my existence from an early age.
It was a happy home. No television, so we entertained ourselves. Dressed in homemade kilts and handknits, playing outdoors.
To Glasgow school of Art in 1970. My lecturers taught Michelangelo and Rembrandt, but I was filling my head with shop windows. Zandra Rhodes, Jean Muir, all those sixties people showing us how it could be done, scared of no-one.
Afterwards, I moved to the Scottish highlands, to Inverness. There I became a designer/couturier/artisan, taking private commissions, finding my way, learning, learning, learning. What drove me on was passion. For handstitching. For combinations of beautiful colours, outstanding fabrics, things that take clothes into another realm.
The next 30 years were passed making bespoke clothes by hand. My raw material exceptional textiles from Scotland and Europe. Advertising came by word of mouth, and a loyal clientele came to my door.
The last four years have seen showcases as far afield as New York and Tokyo. They’ve seen exhibitions, commissions, collaborations, events and awards, masterclasses, catwalk shows, a television documentary, and, earlier this year, an MBE for services to Scottish fashion and textiles.
Which brings us up to date. Except that in a sense, it doesn’t. Because tomorrow will bring new inspiration, new challenges, new designs. Things to be made, ideas to be tried, layers of fabric to sit alongside each other. A tale of experience, observation and imagination, with no real end.