Admiring the single peacock feather that adorns our logo, we got to wondering about feathers, and why fashionable feather trends sometimes seem to spontaneously take flight.
Since the early days of embellishing with the natural, the more unusual the items were, the higher the societal rank for the wearer. This was true for many cultures, including high-ranking ancient Egyptians who wore ostrich feathers in their hair as a symbol of allegiance to the goddess of truth and balance, Ma’at, and Indigenous North, Central and South Americans who sported feathers as symbols of high honor.
Joining European fashion after imperial conquests and expanding trade meant that feathers were everywhere. Ostrich, swan, and peacock feathers became popular amongst higher social classes, while feathers that were easier to acquire were worn by lower classes.
Feathers as fashion reached an all-time peak during the plume trade of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, as feathers became more of a commercialized style and the feather boa of the Jazz Age started making every outfit far more fabulous.
It’s no wonder that bold styles of the ’70s and ’80s included lots of flouncy, feathery looks. From parties at Studio 54 to the stage ensembles of Elton John, Cher and Donna Summer, plumage lent itself to the theatricality of the disco era. And then Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler wore a feather boa and all hell broke loose in Rock-n-Roll.
More recently, modern iterations of feathers have returned to the runways, appearing in the recent collections of Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, and more.
Simultaneously fragile and flamboyant, they magnify the sense of luxury for almost any outfit. At the School of Beautiful things, birds of a feather glamorously flock together.