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Brian Wilson at the British Lifestyle Exhibition
Ian Mitchell

n Tuesday and Wednesday 17th and 18th March, the British Embassy hosted an exhibition, titled British Lifestyle, which highlighted the products of a number of small but innovative design and manufacturing companies in the luxury goods market. Ron Archibald, Head of UK Trade and Investment, which organised the exhibition, said, “From London to Isle of Lewis, Britain is renowned for companies producing world-class consumer goods. Many Russian consumers are now looking beyond the obvious labels, and we are sure that the companies will find a ready audience in this discerning luxury market.” Perhaps the most unexpected exhibitor was Harris Tweed Hebrides, from the isle of Lewis. Harris Tweed has, by Act of Parliament, to be traditionally “hand woven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the islands and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.” The Chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides is Rt Hon Brian Wilson, who was for many years the Minister responsible for Trade and Investment in the British government, but who now lives in Lewis. He introduced the press conference which launched the exhibiton, after which he manned the company’s stand. The first item in the full presentation was a film giving a brief history of British fashion over the past half century. It started at the beginning, forty-seven years ago, with an antique clip of the Rolling Stones singing: “Hey! You! Get off my cloud”. That, in the context of Hebridean wool, reminded me of the old Highland joke that has the punch-line, “Hey! Macleod! Get off my ewe.”

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