Designers have taken the classic Prince of Wales check and infused it with modern sensibility this season. Whether it was enlarging the pattern, reconstructing it in patchwork, or working it onto a pair of proper pajamas, the traditional pattern’s history was rewritten.
Believe it or not, the pattern (officially known in the Scottish Register of Tartans as glen plaid) owes its initial popularity to a woman, not the Prince of Wales. Created in 1840 by Elizabeth McDougall in the Glenurquhart valley in Scotland, the fabric was adopted by local aristocrat the Countess of Seafield, who owned a sporting estate in the area and used the cloth to outfit her gamekeepers. Edward VII, the Prince of Wales, a regular hunting companion of the Seafields, liked the fabric so much that he followed suit and began making his clothing in glen plaid. It was later adopted by his famously fashionable grandson, Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, who in turn made it popular for the public and ensured its perennial place in the wardrobe of the well-dressed.
While the Scottish pattern is rooted in the aristocracy, its modern versions are anything but staid. From Gucci to Alexander McQueen and Zegna, the historical fabric is getting a thoroughly 2018 update.