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What? Thanksgiving is upon us, and even if you don’t celebrate it or have never done a turkey trot, there’s no getting away from feathers. And they’re not limited to headdresses: from opulent ostrich to preening peacock, they are this season’s soaraway success.
Why? Well, it has little to do with pilgrims or native Americans. Feathers have been lightening the austerity mood all year thanks to a rash of productions of Swan Lake. Party girl Daisy Buchanan, played by Carey Mulligan, wore feathery Prada pieces in Baz Luhrmann’s film of The Great Gatsby and there were awards galore for the stage version of the 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical film Top Hat – not least an Olivier for best costumes. One of these was a floaty ostrich-feather gown. “The feathers exaggerate movement and accentuate the parts of the body you want to accentuate, whether the hips, torso or back,” says Jon Morrell, the show’s costume designer.
Where? Dries van Noten led the way with head-to-toe ostrich feathers in pink and yellow, and his saucy marabou-feathered print silk top (£805) sold out at Browns within two hours. Jason Wu plumped for a classical Odette/Odile look in bouncy ostrich-feather minidresses in white and black (£3,073). Erdem Moralioglu stepped up the tempo with sheer silk organza overlaying ostrich-feathered embroidery. At Gucci, Frida Giannini followed the sultry tango beat with wet-look feathers accentuating the arms and silhouettes of satin and sheer gowns and jumpsuits.
Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2 added a sweeping train of ostrich and marabou feathers to a blush Swarovski crystal silk georgette gown (£19,865); Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy channelled Mae West in an ostrich-feather bolero jacket (£3,138); and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton reinvented 1930s screen siren Jean Harlow’s feather silk dressing gown as a pink silk coat with lush marabou-exposed lining.
Should you invest? Feathers aren’t being shed any time soon, whether in wardrobes or culture. Catch the feather-clad high society Viennese women by Gustav Klimt and colleagues in Facing the Modern at London’s National Gallery, or stay tuned for the feather fetishes of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in next year’s film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Feathers certainly make a statement: the Jean Paul Gaultier sailor-striped gown with ostrich-feather trim, originally worn by Princess Caroline at Monaco’s annual Rose Ball in 2000, is now a highlight of the Gaultier retrospective on show at the Brooklyn Museum, which is migrating to London’s Barbican Gallery in April.
Make sure you get the proportions right – wear flats, rather than heels – and don’t forget to scope out the high street. Miss Selfridge offers a sassy Charleston edge in a shimmering feather-trimmed silver metallic dress with delicate spaghetti straps (£195), and Asos.com has Lipsy’s feather-embellished plunge-back white lace dress (£110). Accessorise with a John Lewis multicoloured feather boa (£16.50) in colours from peacock blue to fiery fuchsia. Let us all give thanks.