Be they embroidered, sequined, woven, or fashioned from their magnificent plumage itself, birds have long played an important and sometimes controversial role in centuries of fashion design and execution.
From the Victorian days of plunder-taxidermy manuals instructed readers to 'start with birds' to 20th century protectionism, birds have found their way into fashion in one form or another; while Australian Huia beak brooches, hummingbird dinner dress adornments, and ostrich feather fans captivated the hearts of 19th century fashionistas, 20th century buyers, respectful of avian environmental concerns, were charmed by printed and woven textiles representing all species of man’s feathered favourites.
So widespread was the slaughter of exotic birds for fashion that feathers were actually classified as textiles. The Mobile Millinery Museum houses a large collection of quills, aigrettes, spines, plumes, fluffs, fuzzes,
downs, & spikes, many of them the plumage endangered or now extinct species such as bird-of-paradise.
|Maria Curcic in one of her own designs|
Ornithological themes can be found in many woven, embroidered, and printed textiles of the twentieth century, making for interesting costume collections. A favourite from my own collection is a blue-bird themed satin damask gown created for a production of the opera L’Oiseau Bleu that I found at The Little Shop in Montreal.