Celtic cool or Scots cosplay? Alan Cumming’s robust seems to be on US Traitors assessed | Vogue

‘I’m like a much less butch Agatha Christie in a superb outfit,” declares Alan Cumming in an early episode of the TV present The Traitors US. The outfit in query? A navy and inexperienced tartan go well with teamed with a neon inexperienced knitted tie and a gold and inexperienced sparkly brooch.

The present, which initially launched late final 12 months within the UK, was fronted by Claudia Winkleman and have become an on the spot success, being streamed greater than 28m instances on BBC iPlayer. This week noticed the discharge of a US model on BBC Three. Unfold over 10 episodes, there are two huge modifications to the format. The primary: the arrival of the dapperly dressed Cumming as host. The second: contestants who hail from a actuality TV background, chosen from exhibits together with The Actual Housewives of Beverly Hills.

In a Nineteenth-century citadel in Alness, north of Inverness, Cumming wears a special tartan go well with for every episode, spanning each part of the color wheel. There are crimson reds, azure blues and mossy greens. Excessive-shine brogues, smoking slippers, jaunty socks, zingy hued knitted scarves, berets, a pocket watch and jewelled brooches characteristic, too. He even frequently accessorises with a riff on a conventional Scottish fly plaid. That is sometimes extra tartan materials from a kilt that’s pinned over the left shoulder. For the unacquainted, Cumming has set the bar for what vacationers count on to see after they step off the aircraft at Inverness airport.

The contestants of Traitors US with host Alan Cumming. {Photograph}: Manufacturing/BBC/Studio Lambert/All3Media Worldwide

The premise for the present is straightforward – 20 contestants undertake a sequence of group challenges to earn cash for a prize pot that might be cut up on the finish of the sport. The twist is that among the many gamers are three “traitors”, whose job is to homicide one participant every evening. The others, dubbed “faithfuls”, should attempt to establish who the traitors are. If a traitor makes it to the ultimate, they scoop the entire prize fund.

Because the present builds, so too does the stress and Cumming’s outfits solely add to the drama. And at instances Cumming’s wardrobe – which was created with an American stylist – appears to veer into Scottish cosplay.

So simply how genuine is the tartan? “The bulk is a contemporary vogue kind,” says Peter MacDonald, a tartan historian with greater than 35 years of examine, who analysed six of Cumming’s outfits for the Guardian. “It’s when a designer or clothesmaker makes up their very own interpretation of tartan. It’s quite common these days.”

In a promotional shot for the present, Cumming is pictured sitting on a leather-based Chesterfield chair in a pink and inexperienced tartan go well with surrounded by the contestants. MacDonald says the print relies on the Royal Stewart tartan. First referenced in 1850, it’s the official tartan of the royal household. “There’s a model of it referred to as Gray Stewart. Right here they’ve changed the gray with pink.”

Cumming with tartan jacket and blanket on set.
Setting the bar for what vacationers count on to see … Cumming on set. {Photograph}: Screengrab/BBC/Studio Lambert & All3Media Worldwide

One other shot sees him wrapped in a multi-hued tartan blanket, which MacDonald describes as a up to date tackle a Buchanan. This tartan was first recorded on a highland revival-era cloak circa 1800.

Out of the six tartan seems to be, there is just one that MacDonald flags as genuine. It consists of a pink, inexperienced and navy tartan blazer that he groups with a maroon velvet shirt. Fittingly referred to as the Cumming tartan, it dates again to the 18th century. The actor beforehand wore the sample in 2009 to gather his OBE award.

Cumming in his eponymous red and green tartan.
Cumming in his eponymous tartan. {Photograph}: Screengrab/BBC/Studio Lambert & All3Media Worldwide

Cumming comes from Aberfeldy, in Highland Perthshire, west of Dundee. Was MacDonald stunned to see him put on a lot non-authentic tartan? “In no way. In some methods it makes extra sense. If that they had chosen a tartan not related together with his title, then folks would have questioned that.”

Traditionally, tartan patterns have been linked to the weavers of a selected space. These days, anybody can design their very own tartan. There are even on-line programmes that allow you to mock up the colors, spools and thread counts out of your smartphone.

For £70, anybody can even register a tartan as soon as it meets the fundamental standards set out within the 2008 Scottish Register of Tartans Act. MacDonald, who sits on the advisory board, says they get on common 10 new tartans every week.

In 2021, Cumming and Miriam Margolyes created a tartan to rejoice their Misplaced in Scotland TV tour. Dubbed Aliam, it’s stated to be a “weaving collectively of their names, which displays the warp and weft of a tartan material”.

Outdoors Scotland, Individuals are the largest creators of latest tartans. Greys and greens, a “departure from the standard tartan”, are trending proper now and names on the register span from people to massive firms, together with Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola.

Cumming in a red tartan jacket on The Traitors US.
Crimson peak … Cumming on The Traitors US. {Photograph}: Screengrab/BBC/Studio Lambert & All3Media Worldwide

It’s extra sophisticated to copyright a tartan involving a sequence of rigorous technical and human audits. MacDonald, who helps a handful of purchasers every year design their very own, has greater than 11,500 copyrighted tartans on his private database. “I’m doing one thing that’s distinctive and fairly troublesome,” he says.

Whereas the areas featured in The Traitors, together with Andros Fort, are gearing up for heightened curiosity following the present, the textile business in Scotland is already thriving. In response to a report from Scottish Enterprise, the sector in 2021 employed 0.3% of the inhabitants and exported to greater than 150 nations, contributing £360m to the economic system.

Simply don’t count on to see any locals in a Cumming-inspired mismatched vivid go well with. “The style manufacturers don’t need us to appear to be we’ve walked off the hills,” says MacDonald. “However for these of us who champion the standard patterns, that’s precisely what we wish to obtain.”

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