Having seen a lot of feathers and furs paraded down the recent Runways for AW14 Collections, how timely that MoMu, in Antwerp, should have on a Birds of Paradise exhibition, running to 24 August 2014:
This exhibition is an ode to the elegance and refinement of the application of plumes and feathers in fashion and haute couture. Through a mixture of accessories, garments and couture dresses, the different characteristics of the various plumes and feathers are highlighted: sophistication, femininity, wealth, luxury, but also dark romance.
Refined accessories with ostrich, pheasant and marabou feathers showcase the elegance of fashion at Belle Époque at the end of the 19th century. The roaring twenties were the true heydays of garment feathers, as they were used in accessories such as boas and hats for flappers. Gabrielle Chanel also used feathers for her motifs and in the embroidery for her creations and film costumes. Marlène Dietrich’s iconic swan’s down coat is a masterpiece: it is the crowning jewel of the theme of black and white swan in evening dress.
These days, feathers are again all the rage on the catwalk, both in creations of Belgian as well as international fashion designers. The work of Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester counts here as one of the most poetic examples of the use of feathers.
Featuring Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Ann Demeulemeester et al.
Whilst not sure I’d ever wear them – I have some ambivalent feelings about stripping/killing animals just to make pretty things for humans – the workmanship in use of said feathers and plumes is apparent and makes for some beautiful imagery. Intriguing, interesting and, yes, beautiful.
So weird that zeitgeist thing, no? You see a few feathers and suddenly they’re all over the place … in fashion, on people. Do we like that? I’m really not sure …