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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Highland Revival 高地復興

Tartan (Scottish Gaelic: breacan [ˈpɾʲɛxkən]) is a patterned cloth with crossing horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours, forming simple or complex rectangular patterns. Tartans originated in woven wool, but are now made in other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland, and Scottish kilts almost always have tartan patterns.

The period of widened public interest in tartan and Highland dress after the repeal of the Dress Act in 1782 has been called the Highland Revival.

While tartan had already seen more nationwide use from 1707, as a Scottish nationalism symbol against union with England, it was turned on its ear to become a romanticised symbol of union loyalism in the early 19th century, an era in which prominent conflicts caused a patriotic influence of military (including Highland) style on civilian clothing, even among women despite its overtly masculine focus. First among the northern gentry and later among the common people more broadly, there was a renewed interest in tartan and Highland dress, despite the long period of prohibition – largely due to the glory associated with the Highland regiments' exemplary service in various military campaigns.  "Highlandism" became a romantic, mythologised (even fictionalised) and colourful escapism.

Romanticism in Scotland was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that developed between the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries. It was part of the wider European Romantic movement, which was partly a reaction against the Age of Enlightenment, emphasising individual, national and emotional responses, moving beyond Renaissance and Classicist models, particularly into nostalgia for the Middle Ages.

Romanticism (also known as the Romantic movement or Romantic era) was an artistic and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century. For most of the Western world, it was at its peak from approximately 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of the past and nature, preferring the medieval over the classical. Romanticism was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, and the prevailing ideology of the Age of Enlightenment, especially the scientific rationalization of Nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature; it also had a major impact on historiography, education, chess, social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics: Romantic thinking influenced conservatism, liberalism, radicalism, and nationalism.

I am a big fan of Tartan fashion. I actually wear tartan shirts to work at least three times a week.

So I am thrilled when my Italian friends Antonella and Omar came to the Venice Carnevale in Scottish costumes.

Antonella says she's inspired by 1850 Scotland, the kilt and their tradition, thus the fashion project for the Venice Carnevale was born and then the costume. She actually dressed the whole family, including her two young children in tartan costumes, the title of the project being The Tartan Family.

Antonella, Omar and me have been friends for years, we meetup at the Venice Carnevale every year. Usually I like to do a Valentine's Day photo shoot for them. This year is no different.

Thank you Antonella and Omar, for bringing back this very classic fashion to Venice.

For me, inspiration for the photo comes from those Gucci fashion posters in magazines.

I have seen quite a few fashion brands do their catalogues in Venice.

Imagine the photo with the words Gucci printed at the lower half, it actually works beautifully.

The Venice Carnevale, renowned as the world's most beautiful festival, dazzles with its extravagant masked costumes donned by wonderful attendees. Beyond the masks, locals exude charm in their preference for painted faces and historical garb, adding to the festival's allure.

As usual, the portrait is done on the busy streets of Venice during Carnevale, and using only natural lighting....

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