‘Feather’ Weight

The only thing that’s ‘light’ about feathers is their weight; their impact is always ‘heavy’. Like furs, feathers are a perennial favorite and have been used decoratively since the dawn of time. So it’s hardly surprising that as the weather turned warm, women (well, most women – Anna Wintour has been spotted out and about this past month wearing small pieces of fur) would replace them with feathers. I suppose one can look at feathers as a spring or summer ‘fur’.

It seems that all around town as of late, women are turning up at parties and galas bedecked in feather trimmed coats, dresses, gowns, bags, hats, and shoes. And because feathers were very much a signature of Paul Poiret, and they are prominent throughout the “Poiret: King of Fashion” exhibition at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, feathers could not be more timely.

May 7th’s Costume Institute Gala, which celebrated the feather loving couturier, was a true case of life imitating art, as 4 proud peacocks encased in a 20 foot cage served as part of the over the top, exotic and elaborate décor. And it didn’t stop there; many guests apparently did their homework and dressed to pay homage by adorning themselves with feathers as well. Notable examples: Rachel Roy wore a white satin kimono coat with lavish ostrich trimmed sleeves over a canary yellow gown (her own design); Miuccia Prada in her own neon orange ‘plasticized’ feathered skirt (made possible by modern technology); Annette de la Renta wore hubby’s black feather trimmed evening gown; Vogue editor Meredith Melling Burke made a perfect choice with her vintage Poiret feather trimmed short cape thrown over a custom designed Brian Reyes gown; Vogue contributing editor Lauren DuPont opted to accessorize her Thakoon dress with a feathered turban; and fashion designer/art collector/philanthropist Lisa Perry ‘capped’ off her graphic lampshade tunic dress (another Poiret signature) with a feather trimmed headband. Talk about a ‘feather in her cap’.

At this past Monday’s American Ballet Theatre Gala at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, Rachel Roy looked supremely modern and of the moment in an ecru satin windbreaker worn over a white shirt and black knee length skirt trimmed with feathers while Amy Fine Collins gave new meaning to ‘Fine’ feathered friend (sorry I couldn’t resist) as she made her entrance looking positively swanlike in a fluttery white strapless feathered Chado Ralph Rucci creation. By the way, what could be more appropriate attire for enjoying a performance of the “White Swan”?

Iman & David Bowie at Costume Institute Ball (photo: Randy Brooke)

If the idea of frou frou feathers ruffles your feathers a bit (admittedly they are NOT for everyone), the good news is that in fashion, for every action, there is a reaction. You can always do what many other fashionable gals have done recently…opt for the timeless appeal of a menswear inspired tuxedo. At the aforementioned Costume Institute Ball, Iman turned out with husband David Bowie wearing a natty white custom made Stella McCartney tuxedo pantsuit (and holding a dapper cane) while, Julianne Moore escorted YSL’s creative head, Stefano Pilati clad in the designer’s short white tuxedo dress. They stood out because they went against the grain and didn’t look like too many others.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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