Skip to main content

High-Flying Fashion

Peacock Feathers
Peacock Feathers

Feathers have been a staple of fashion for centuries.  This easily acquired embellishment was used to add a touch of panache to garments and millinery from an early time.  Today we see full use of feathers to overlay skirts and accessory pieces.  Recently, a bridal gown was unveiled at the Wedding Culture Expo in China that featured an entirely feather encrusted train.  The unveiling of such an unusual piece mad a great splash.  The dress was reportedly comprised of more than 2,000 feathers and retailed for $1.4 million USD.  The latest "use" of feathers is to not use them at all.  Many designers have begun to use the bold and bright print of feathers, rather than the actual feather itself. 

This beautiful and inspiring material can be studied further at the new exhibit currently showing at the Goldstein Museum of Design Flights of Fancy: A History of Feathers in Fashion will explore the historical and contemporary uses of feathers in western fashion, the feather trade and anti-feather activism.  The collection now on display until September 12, 2010 will showcase pieces by designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass and Sonia Rykiel.  This wonderful exhibit is presented in partnership with the Raptor Center and the Bell Museum of Natural History.  On Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 3pm, Dr. Amy Scarborough will present her dissertation, Featherheads and Audobonnets: The Influence of Fashion Media on Bird Preservation.  Her talk will discuss the role of the media in protecting bird species within the fashion industry.  She will also discuss women's roles in activism against the feather trade.