Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birds of a Feather

Courtesy of
I thought after my strongly worded post yesterday that we could examine the wonderful world of feathers. No, not the common garden-variety found in doonas around the globe. Not even the type which featured so heavily in the fascinators women would wear to church in the country of my childhood. We could view three varied examples which illustrate the roles this natural avian product has come to occupy. Firstly... the use of feathers in interior decoration cannot be underestimated. Whether reflected in images on walls, or fringing on cushions, it represents a form of glamourous comfort. When we look at the lamp shown above it says more about opulence (and probably Baroque accessories) than the fact that it has between 2000 - 4000 goose or rooster quills in the shade. 

Montezuma's Ceremonial Headdress. Courtesy ANU. 

Last year I saw the headdress of Montezuma in the Museum of National Anthropology in Mexico City.  He was the ruler of Tenochtitlan from 1502 - 1520 AD. Here the feathers have a religious significance and also represented divine rule. The fact that the colours were so extraordinary would have made it difficult to overshadow his presence. 

This leads us to our last image of a ball gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen 2011. This gown was worn at the Annual Met Ball in New York by socialite and fashion patron Daphne Guinness. Here the image shows such breathtaking beauty and decadence in the profusion of feathers that it almost overshadows the wearer.  The mastery of McQueen's petite mains (little hands) would have been truly tested in fastening such a complex piece together. The fact that many birds (and Dita Von Teese) use brightly coloured feathers as a form of sexual allure would make for interesting discussion. Maybe another time... 

Daphne Guinness in Alexander McQueen Met Ball 2011

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