Elaine Mackenzie Waistcoats
Elaine Mackenzie is a specialist on the capsule wardrobe. She has to be. As cabin crew for flights to Scandinavia, she is well used to living out of a suitcase. ‘If I can plan a week ahead, I’m happy,’ she told us, speaking from her home near Gatwick.
Although a self-confessed island girl growing up in Laxay, she has spent many years (literally) flying to and fro. ‘I love the island and the people; I like my independence too.’ Being able to meet change head-on appears to give Elaine the ‘sense of freedom’ she craves.
In 2011 she moved home to Lewis for an extended period to care for a dear friend who had terminal cancer. It was during this time that she began working with Harris Tweed® cloth, ultimately focussing on waistcoats. ‘Combining the tradition of Harris Tweed® with funky, patterned linings (classic cars to peacock feathers to rock guitars to thistles) is what makes my designs unique.’
When we spoke to Elaine she was furloughed, grounded like many UK cabin crew, unsure of what was round the corner. However, her hopes are very much airborne. ‘It feels like my dreams are finally coming true for the business!’
One of Elaine’s many passions is colour psychology, which she studied in 2006. ‘Colour is a visual language that fuels the way you are feeling.’ Of course, this is why she loves working with Harris Tweed® cloth – unique in that a single yarn can hold several colours.
‘I am happiest when I work with people on what suits them. If you get the colour right and the style right and the fit right, then it becomes not just Harris Tweed®, but Harris Tweed® for them – with memories attached, a valuable investment that will work with their whole wardrobe and be worn again and again.’
‘Live ready.’ That’s Elaine’s motto. Last we heard, she was off to organise her paperwork to make sure her HGV licence is up-to-date (there being a shortage of lorry drivers at this time). We imagine Elaine will be one of the most stylish on the road!