Fashion and feathers

Fashion designers have used feathers in their work at least last since the late 19th century.

Both designers from renowned fashion capitals and talented designers from rapidly growing centers of fashion outside Europe and the US are fascinated by the beauty and sensuality of this material. Feathers are very versatile. They are light, provide volume and lend fluidity and suppleness to the wearer's movements.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to use feathers due to concerns about animal welfare and sustainability. Designers are therefore replacing wild bird feathers with chicken or turkey feathers, which can easily be dyed and incorporated into their designs. Although this protects the wild birds, the problem remains with how the animals are treated within the poultry production.

In the exhibition you can see works from Lars Wallin, Joanna Hedley, Jean Paul Gaultier, Erik Mortensen and Pierre Antoine Vettorello.

The 'cage dress' by Yiqing Yin was inspired by the Chinese legend of Nüwa, the goddess who restored the road to heaven and fashioned people from clay. Each single feather was dyed, individually selected, hand trimmed and then composed onto the cage dress according to an intricate pattern code of size, species and colour degrades.

Ostrich feathers are burnt with acid for luscious wet effect. The structure reveals segments of the body, as skin and feathers mingle together to define a new, otherworldly creature. Feathers: pheasant, peacock, goose and ostrich. Spring of Nüwa, autumn/winter 2012/2013. On loan from Yiqing Yin.