Halifax: A tartan tryst

“Are you seeing those?” I whisper to my boyfriend, sitting attentively to my right. “I need those.”

He responds back with a raised brow and quick exhalation that surprisingly equates—in masculine form—my own untamable excitement for the high-waisted tartan trousers parading on the runway at the AFW Emerging Designer Showcase. The stuff my fashion dreams are made of typically fall into the wildly interesting, but perhaps not always sexy, realm and so his reaction confirms it: these will be my Fashion Week indulgence.

The object of our mutual desire—and let’s just ignore the fact that they’re worn by the evening’s leggiest, fiercest model and so perhaps the reason for his encouragement—are brought to the show by Halifax-based Veronica MacIsaac ([email protected], or via Facebook), a young designer with Celtic traditions, classic lines and the female figure in mind. Cut from family tartans, her line has wrapped the heritage part up with a pretty plaid bow. And she’s spot on with the flattering lines, too. These particular trousers ($75) start at the daintiest of your curves, embrace your hips in a delicious hug and fall straight into a full, elongating leg. Incredible.

Less than a month later, I’m standing in a local coffee shop, with a measuring tape around my middle and MacIsaac tucked below my elbow. She’s jotting down my measurements, from waist to inseam, for my new tartan trews. This hands-on treatment has nothing to do with the media pass that hung from my neck at the show—MacIsaac’s line, which debuted with its Spring ’09 line during October’s AFW showcase, is available entirely by custom order.

This throwback to traditional dressmaking, with measurements, fittings and customer input, makes for a no-mistakes production process for MacIsaac that suits the line’s desire to offer each piece in the customer’s ideal—and hopefully lineage influenced—tartan. But it also takes its cue from MacIsaac’s heritage (her parents head a successful custom-made kilt business in Cape Breton), and her thoughts on today’s all-too-arbitrary sizing. For MacIsaac, it’s all about embracing traditions, creating a product that fits, and remembering our customs and history.

“These days, I find we want the quickest, cheapest way,” she says. “I like to slow down and take my time. I don’t even own a microwave.”

And by slow, she hardly means slow. Within days, I’m slipping into my nearly complete pants for a final fitting. They’re beautiful, figure-perfect and although my French heritage made for a purely aesthetic choice of print, the trousers ring with a Nova Scotian pride I already treasure.

Photography by Josh Webb

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