Photographer Jamie Hawkesworth flashes Binx Walton, Nora Attal and Vittoria Ceretti in ‘Full Feather’, styled by Camilla Nickerson for Vogue US May 2019./ Hair by James Pecis; makeup by Dick Page
Fashion has a long history with feathers, with marabou, ostrich, peacock and more practically raining from the clouds. Coco Chanel adored feathers, as did Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. The late Alexander McQueen was inspired by the feather – “[its] colours, its graphics, its weightlessness and its engineering” – and used it elaborately in his designs, writes The Guardian.
Even if you wouldn’t be caught dead in feathers but sleep on down pillows, this convo is for you. And if your love of animals prompts you to sleep on polyester pillows, we trust that your pillows are made from recycled plastic bottles or even recycled earth-clogging polyester fabric. And what gives your down parka such a lofty look?
These ethical questions become very complicated, and we should hit pause before passing judgment.
Confirmed: Stella McCartney does not use feathers.
“Opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Brits would never dream of wearing real fur – because most have a clear idea by now of the ways in which animals suffer on fur farms and when caught in steel-jaw traps in the wild,” Yvonne Taylor, the director of corporate projects at Peta, tells The Guardian. “However, many shoppers are still unaware of the cruelty inherent in the down and feather industries.”
Taylor believes that “all feathers are stolen property”, even if they come from dead chicken breast you’re eating.
Art curator Karen Van Godtsenhoven, who staged one of the most famous celebrations of feathers, “Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers”, at the fashion museum MoMu in Antwerp in 2014, cites Paris-based Lemaire. She says the 137-year-old atelier, which supplies Chanel to this day, “can make a chicken feather look like it was plucked from a bird of paradise”.
The milliner Stephen Jones, uses barn-fowl feathers (chicken, duck, turkey, goose, grouse, pheasant and ostrich) in his elaborate headpieces “to heighten movement, delicacy or to create dynamic line”. Jones abides by the guidelines on the exploitation of feathers laid down in 1905 by the US non-profit conservation group the Audubon Society. He believes using feathers “is not the same as using exotic skins or fur, because the feathers that are used in millinery are a byproduct of food production.” Jones says he also makes feathers out of tulle, plastics and other materials. But we don’t really want to talk about plastic feathers, do we? beyond which it is “a personal point of view; whether you are carnivore, vegetarian, vegan”.