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From Scotland With Love -- Our Week Dressed to Kilt in New York

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New York. Early April. The metropolis is buzzing. Temperatures, in the late 70s, are considerably higher than normal and, as we turn our attention to the conclusion of Tartan Week, we adjust our kilts to accommodate several days of Scottish-themed feasting. Hell, it's been a joyous time. Looking back on the seven-day adventure, one which witnesses Scots -- and those with Scottish descendants -- gathered in The Big Apple in appreciation of their roots, we sip on a celebratory dram and smile through proud, glassy eyes....
 
New York, as always, played perfect host (we've attended Tartan Week many times) and, as the city flung open its portals to welcome an army of Scottish delegates, tourists, chefs, designers and event planners, we couldn't have been happier. We loved the passion, the heritage and, most of all, the pride that brought attendees together in respectful, perfect harmony.
 
Kick starting the festivities was a wildly entertaining tartan parade which cartwheeled down 5th Avenue like Scotland on crack. As pipers swirled and dancers jigged, an army of ginger-wigged, bonnet-wearing folk (clichéd, perhaps, but tongue in cheek, nonetheless) ran at breakneck speed through the city. But of course this was merely the start; thereafter followed a string of events, each of which shared a common goal; to celebrate Scotland while pointing towards a future of shared opportunity.
 
Amongst the highlights, this year, was Alan Cumming's performance in Macbeth, a National Theatre of Scotland production in which Cumming plays everyone, from the eponymous title role to the three witches and even Lady Macbeth herself. Cumming has undeniable talent and his staggering ability to dissect and individualize each character left the audience aghast. We had the good fortune to see the Shakespearean play premier in Glasgow late last year and watched, in awe, as Cumming, from the moment the curtain rose, sent his audience into terrifying meltdown.
 
Also part of the Scottish-themed entertainment roster was The Angels' Share, currently showing at The Sunshine Cinema. Directed by Ken Loach, the movie bagged the Jury Prize when it screened last year at The Cannes Film Festival. A brilliant comedy-drama (in the mould of Scottish gems Comfort and Joy and Gregory's Girl) the flick's title references the evaporation process that occurs during the whiskey brewing process. It's a gorgeous wee film that tells the story of a team of gormless souls who set about stealing a cask of whisky worth one million pounds. Go see it and be drunk on emotion as the story unfolds and the amber nectar pours....

And then, of course, came "From Scotland With Love." Check out the buzz at www.fromscotlandwithlove.net. Rising, like a tartan clad phoenix, from the ashes of fashion hootenanny 'Dressed To Kilt' (which, in previous years, was fronted by Sir Sean Connery) the hot ticket diary date saw designers and makers from all over Scotland dress a glittering array of supermodels, actors, sports personalities and, ahem, us. But more of our involvement in just a mo'...
 
Now in its eleventh year, and created by genius Chairman Dr. Geoffrey Scott Carroll and Vice Chairman Peter Morris, the event's primary goal is to raise Scotland's profile on the international stage while introducing creative Scots to business people in North America and beyond. Oh, yes; "beyond." This year the fashion extravaganza, as part of its strategy, adopted a headline winning theme; "Scottish Lion Meets Asian Dragon."
 
And so it came to pass that Chinese Dragons graced the ramp alongside yours trulies (suitably attired, no less, in lion-meets-dragon finery loomed by Scottish tartan supremos Glen Isla Kilts), Vancouver choreographer Joel Hanna, the arrestingly handsome John Reardon (Canadian star of Tron), Asian supermodel Ling Tan, former Scottish first minister Jack McConnell, Dancing With The Stars' Anna Demidova, New York Giant Steve Weatherford, and, incredibly, Arun Ghandi -- grandson of Mahatma Gandhi -- with whom we spent an eternity chatting world politics, arrestment of violence, and, ahem, tips on how to make his specially created Peace Tartan kilt swirl purposefully as he strode the lauded runway.
 
Benefiting charities for the evening were www.woundedwarriorproject.org an initiative set up to honour and empower wounded soldiers and www.mcconnellinternationalfoundation.org a fund raising operative which helps monetize development programs in impoverished communities as far apart as Scotland and Africa.
 
We also caught Highland Heart, an exhibition of photography by Scottish uber snapper David Eustace. Eustace, an old friend from Glasgow (now based in NYC) boasts a glossy portfolio of clients that spans Sophia Loren and Paul McCartney. We're always proud to see Scottish folks performing so well on the international stage. Find out more at www.davideustace.com.
 
All too quickly, our Scottish adventure drew to a conclusion. As we packed our Louis Vuitton travel bags and dashed to L.A. for a spot of work, we cast our minds over the week that was. Sipping whisky at The Highlander pub in Greenwich Village as a Scottish fiddler scratched northern lilts on his tiny fiddle. Dancing, like lunatics, with tartan-clad twins (part Chucky doll/part Honey Boo Boo) outside Macy's as their Mom (dressed as Merida from Brave) captured the moment on her iPhone. And chowing down on haggis at a luncheon in a condo perched fifty floors high over Manhattan with a gaggle of international journos. God damn it we had fun.
 
Aye, t'was a wonderful week and we're sad it's over. We remain hopeful, however, that From Scotland With Love may one day sail a sister ship into Canada; that would clearly make sense. With a human "Nova Scotia" already spread liberally across the country courtesy of expats and second- and third-generation Scots, it's a land of opportunity. In the meantime, wherever we go -- and whomever we meet -- there'll always be a tartan week party going on in our hearts. It's a flag we're happy to fly on a permanent basis. You simply won't find prouder Scots than us...

Dressed To Kilt 2011
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