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Yea or Nay: Feathers

Bird is the word, bitches.

Let's talk feathers, ladies.

Adam, Azzaro. Badgley Mischka, Chado Ralph Rucci

Whether as a simple embellishment or the whole nine yards, there was a considerable amount of plumage on the runways this season.

Dolce & Gabbana, Emilio Pucci, Giles, Giambattista Valli

But like any trend or embellishment, determining whether it works or not is all in how you use it.

Jason Wu, Koi Suwannagate, L'Wren Scott, Marchesa

Truth be told, we love almost every single look in this post, but we're more partial to the ones that use the feathers sparingly, rather than as the centerpiece of all the whole look.

Mark Fast, Naeem Khan, Ohne Titel, Proenza Schouler

Laura Bennett may see fit to end our friendship when she hears this, but we're a little over skirts made entirely out of feathers.

Roksanda Ilincic, Temperley London, Vanessa Bruno, Zac Posen

But jackets, collars, cuffs, hems? Works for us. What do you guys think?


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I love them, they add a softness to the look.

The second picture in the first row...who knew that big bird has such good legs...

The L'Wren Scott is grossing me out.

I love them, they are stunning, classic and beautiful. The problem is always when I go and try them on I always wonder if the event in question warrents them. Would you look fablous or foolish? I chicken out every time. What would Coco do?

Wow, I actually love the L'Wren Scott - just a look that is good for runways - if a starlet tried that on the red carpet, she'd be eviscerated.... unless it was made less feathery...

I don't know. Feathers are one of those things that just scream 'costume' to me. That doesn't mean that they're impossible to pull off, but it would take a hell of a personality to make me like them.

The worst are the Azzaro, Koi Suwannagate, and L'Wren Scott.

I do like them in general even or maybe especially the skirts - maybe for me that is because my top is large than my bottom anf they create a balance?

The last wrap is so pretty.

I think they're almost always a fun look, unless, of course, the person using them is Santino and the placement is on some poor model's backside.

Less is decidedly more. The large sections of dead bird plumage just look ridiculous and costumey (blergh on the L'Wren Scott, for one), but a touch of bird-feather softness is quite lovely when done well (I didn't really see a use I really liked in the selection you chose above, but I have seen it done in a way I liked elsewhere). I whole-heartedly agree with you on the feather skirts: that look is officially done and is well on its way over the shark as I write this.

Still, I hope they're getting these feathers from farmed birds, and not wild. I'd rather not have another situation akin to what feathers on Edwardian hats did to the gorgeous aquatic birds of Florida. Not that anyone else anywhere near this post gives a crap about that—and I don't blame anyone for thinking this is a silly thing to worry about—but I used to volunteer at the National Zoo as a kid, and you've no idea the damage that can be done by fashion trends to threatened or endangered species. I used to cry. In my defense, was only 13.

Feathered dresses are luxurious confections. As long as you don't sit down, eat, or otherwise try to live in the dress, it's a statement of beauty.

Except for the bodice of the Naeem Khan dress, which looks like some feathered creature is trying to bust loose from the model.

I actually love the Wren Scott. Maybe because the bright color doesn't reflect feathers so much.

I really like the Chado though.

However, too much saturation IMO. It's like designers saw how big it went with McQueen from five plus years ago and now they all have to do it.

Love them, and have no problem with skirts made of feathers. Laura, ditch TLo and call me! :)

I'm always a YAY for feathers.

No to feathers. Too Muppet-y.

Mochizuki-Senpai, don't assume no one else near this post gives a crap about that. I like or love almost every look shown, but I also can't help but think about the poor naked fowl. There's a regular commenter here named Vegan, and many others who don't like fur or even leather. Hai, Senpai, you are not alone! (The clothes sure are purty, though. For pure over the top fun, I love the L'Wren Scott. L'WREN -- oh, the irony!)

I don't mind them so much as long as the collection doesn't look like a flock of geese walking down the runway.

I love feathers in theory, but they are so difficult to carry off that I don't think anyone really looks good in them, including the models in these pictures. They veer into costume way too easily. Yves Saint Laurent was able to do them, but that was mostly in the 60s and 70s.

If I really want to get my bird on, I like the idea of a feather clutch.

I guess Wendy Pepper was just ahead of her time, with the orange dress for Nancy O'Dell.

(extract tongue from cheek)

I think that very few can pull it off. Kate Hudson attempted the one with the plunging V and feathers on the hem, correct? It was kind of "ehhh." On the other hand, Iman rocked the hell out of that pink Jason Wu with the green belt.

This comment has been removed by the author.

I'm with you guys - it's all in how you use them. The 1st time I saw a dress made totally out of feathers I was awestruck by how it moved, but now... it's been done. Still eye-catching, but not always in a good way. I still love feathers in moderation or as an embellishment, tho. In the examples you showed here, I'm partial to the D&G (love the pattern they created with the feathers), the Pucci, the Jason Wu and the Mark Fast.


I love feathers! Mostly for the hair, but also as trim.
I long ago stopped worrying about appearing foolish. Perhaps I never did.

But I don't like feather boas.

another laura

I cannot say "yay" unless I know that they're cruelty-free. Honestly? I thought these were all made of man-made materials.

I love feathers. I say yay.

I say YAY! Feathers are so fun and feminine.

I would spend the entire time wondering if the feathers would get crushed when I sat down, and how do you clean a feather garment?
I imagine it looks great as long as you don't sit, eat, drink or move while you're wearing it.


Some of these LOOK amazing, but, apart from the cruelty issue, I find feathers so, so gross to touch.

Where is Nicolas now that we need him?

12/7/09 5:27 PM I guess Wendy Pepper was just ahead of her time, with the orange dress for Nancy O'Dell.

(extract tongue from cheek)

I have to say that I seriously thought that also (w/out tongue in cheek)- but I always feel like Wendy's chief defender.

I agree that feathers look better as accents, though 2 of your runway examples – felicitously side by side – illustrate a do and don’t of designing a feather skirt: Mark Fast and Naeem Khan. Think attenuate swan versus overweight chicken.

A little touch here and there, yes, otherwise, no.

i'm not dorothy gale

I like them better on the original owners.

I've surprised myself by actually loving a lot of these feathered fashions. But, I, too hate the idea and thought that birds are still being harmed and nearing extinction. I assume that with so many consevation and preservation groups being watchdogs these days that the situation has improved considerably. Good post to start the week, guys. Thanks for the spread. Cheap pun intended.

- edina -

A huge "Nay!" These feathers don't just fall off of wild ostriches. They're bred and kept in captivity and then (if they aren't killed for meat) they have their feathers cut off.

Yay for feathers!

I say Nay. To me, they don't really look THAT special. Sure, they're sort of interesting, but not interesting enough to merit what it takes to get them, from farming animals or taking them from the wild. Of all these looks the only one I really liked was the Chado dress, and that one used them very sparingly, and I think could have been done just as beautifully without them.

I liked the Badgley Mischka and the Chado Ralph Rucci. It surprised me - I didn't think I liked feathers. I did see a dress somewhere recently - some way way way down market cheap store - that was trimmed in feathers at the hem, and i loved it.

i have nowhere to wear feathers, and I suspect the feather-fluff sheds the whole time you're wearing the garment.

But I don't hate the feathers - provided they are deployed skillfully.

I covet the Chado Ralph Rucci!! Must have! I agree with TLo that used sparingly they are gorgeous.

I love feathers! I wanted a prom dress with feathers but my friends would not allow it. And it was too expensive.


Well, nay if it's a skirt or a whole dress. When you sit on them, you bend the spines of the feathers, causing them to be a funny shape. They also can shed after a while and you have the double embarrassment of leaving feathers behind AND having bald patches in your skirt!

Feathers should be an accent only!

Feathers are fun! But I don't wear them because they're not practical and hard to maintain. But they're still fun!

It's nice to have a little plumage here and there. Otherwise, unless carefully worked, you just end up looking like Big Bird's cousin

I think if you're gonna go all the way to feathers, you might as well feather The Fuck out! i.e., if you're going to use them, just go fully the way the L'Wren Scott dress went. Otherwise, you're pulling up short.

Maybe we should ask the Feather Prince, though? Just to be sure?

For trim? Absolutely. For pieces? Maybe. As the whole outfit in bulk? Not so much.

I love skirts made out of feathers. I understand if you think they're overdone at this point, but I think they're gorgeous regardless.

Yay for feathers!

I love feathers!

If the dress looks like it would fit in at a car wash or a coop, then no.

Used with restraint, yes.

I like feathers when my boyfriend uses them to tickle my testes.

Yeah, it's working for me. I don't think I realized when we discussed Kate Hudson in that Pucci a while back just how much of a Laura Bennett it actually was -- how did I miss it?

Not against feathers on principle, either as trim or full skirt, but I hate most of these looks. The marchesa I kind of like, though I might just be impressed that the model's hair doesn't look like she's on a walk of shame or a bender—on the other hand her legs look they haven't been shaved in a million years... baby steps....

I have studied these pics for a while, and the only thing that comes to mind is that I need to get to the drug store pronto for some Claritin.


Personally, I think feathers look best on birds!

In terms of fashion, I think they are best when used sparingly. When feathers are used in large quantities, if the designer is not very thoughtful, the end product can easily veer into costume as opposed to fashion.

Like I said, leave them on the birds.

I concur...feathers look best on their original owners.

I say YEA!

I used to think feathers were awful, but Laura Bennett changed my mind. I don't love them on the shoulders, though. Shoulder feathers give me a Big Bird vibe, but I LOVE them on short skirts.

The Dolce, Pucci and Mark Fast dresses are my favorites.

Although I like the look of them, actually WEARING feathers creeps me out a little. And even if I got over the creepiness of it, I think I'd kind of feel like I'm in a costume.


All those feathered fashions made me think of Doctor Suess.

I see Reco from the fashion Show 's Dress!
Or something very close in the Second all white feather dress!

You don't have to kill the bird for the feathers. They moult their feathers. Some shed constantly, others more or less seasonally. If you have peafowl you always have feathers, same with ostriches.

I really love them, as you said, when they're used wisely. They're soft, feminine and fun. Though I'll skip those tights with the Marchesa that make the model look like she just climbed out of a mud pit.


Yes, birds shed feathers. I used to wander the peacock enclosure at the zoo in Syracuse, NY, when I was a little kid and collect the shed male peacock tail feathers to give to my mom as if they were flowers. However, clothing manufacturers cannot rely upon shed feathers for the quantity (and quality; shed feathers are generally not in fashion-ready shape) required to make these outfits, especially the feather skirts, blouses, dresses, and -lined coats. To think that shed feathers could be or even would be used by high-end fashion designers is sweet, but naïve.

While one person designing one coat with some feather details might be able to gather shed feathers for that one coat, a be-feathered line like those shown in this post—even haute couture designs, which are reproduced in very small numbers—cannot be manufactured without the slaughter of birds to guarantee the quality and quantity of feathers required for the designs. Making these outfits from shed feathers would be like trying to manufacture fur coats out of naturally-shed house cat fur. I suppose an enterprising (and very quirky) Persian-cat-owner could make himself a jacket from Miss Kitty's copious shed fur, but it'd take him forever, and he'd have trouble trying to make more for his friends, and a cat-furred fashion line would be impossible in terms of time and money.

An extraordinary number of high-quality feathers is required for these looks, even for simple bordering. This necessitates killing numerous birds for the feathers, the same as numerous chinchilla/mink are killed to manufacture a fur coat. Some birds are farmed for their feathers, just as mink and chinchilla are farmed for their fur. I am not going to touch the ethical debate re. slaughtering animals for fashion with a ten-yard pole, but I am concerned about what the slaughter of wild populations for fashion trends might do to those species; a return to the wild harvesting methods of the Edwardian big-be-feathered-hat era could lead to extinction.

Fast, Dolce, Pucci, Gucci = GORGEOUS. Clearly the key is to use sparingly.

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