Birds of Paradise

 Alexander McQueen Fall 2009. Photo by Francois Nars




“Birds of Paradise” is a new exhibition that explores

the history of feathers in fashion. Curated by Karen

Van Godstenhoven will be on view through August 24.




The exhibition examines the use of feathers in fashion, from the coveted ostrich

that were among the most expensive status symbols of the 1920’s, to Marlene Dietrich’s

iconic swans down coat, to the use of feathers by contemporary designers such as

Alexander McQueen and Ann Demeulemeester. Given special consideration is

Maison Lemarié, the Paris atelier that is to the art of plumissage what the Maison

Lesage is to embroidery. Though designers no longer use exotic feathers—conservation

concerns, not to mention costs, rule that out—Lemarié, says Van Godstenhoven,

“can make a chicken feather look like it was plucked from a bird of paradise.”







Folding fan, mount in ostrich feathers dyed in degrade, tortoiseshell

sticks decorated with a crown and arms in platinum,

diamonds, rubies and enamel, 1928






Blue Angel A/W 2012-2013 Roger Vivier








Detail of Quell, mixed media with dove and

pigeon feathers by Kate McGwire, 2011






Hat trimming, cut and lacquered goose feather, 1920-1940






Dries Van Noten Fall 2013-2014






Cleave, mixed media with crow feathers by Kate McGwire, 2012







Ann Demeulemeester Fall 2010-2011







The exhibition










The exhibition