The Battle for Birds

Woman wearing a "Chanticleer" hat (rooster feathers), circa 1912.

Woman wearing a “Chanticleer” hat (rooster feathers), circa 1912.

Read this Great article by NPR on the history of feather fashion and early acts to save migratory birds. The FHM is planning an exhibition about endangered species used in fashion for winter 2017 entitled ‘Wild and Rare’. Some of the hats that will be on display will include feathers from Victoria Pigeons, Arctic Terns, Aigrettes, and even Humming birds!

Rare plumage – Goura

Goura feather trimmed hat, c. 1912-1913

Gouras (Victoria crowned pidgeons) are natives of New Guinea and the surrounding islands. The species were first described in 1819 and are part of the dove family – and possible distant relative of the extinct Dodo bird. They share their lack of fear for humans with the Dodo, which has not helped the species survive. Although the bird is common in captivity, they are endangered in the wild, primarily because they are large and easy to catch and are hunted for both their meat and plumage. The male and female bird look almost identical until mating season when the male develops extra lush feathers on its head. After mating, the crown feathers wither and fall out so the optimal time to harvest the male birds is during mating season.

The Audobon Society was founded in 1896 to protect American birds slaughtered for their plumage for the millinery trade, and helped to affect the enactment of strong laws prohibiting the sale and export of rare plumage. According to Barbara Troeller of Rue de la Paix, “The birds (Goura) were put on the prohibited list way back around the WWI era, along with the Greater Bird Of Paradise and Egret.”

Barbara also noted that there are actually several “crowns” or crests of plumes sewn together on this hat, to add extra fullness. She noted “I do not think that is the actual goura head, but another type of bird’s head to which the goura plumage has been attached. That was pretty common to do. The natural color of the goura plumes is a slate blue-gray and white hue, but you could find them dyed on occasion.”

Cocoa Chanel?

Salon Du Chocolat 2012 - Fashion Chocolate Show

Actress Kim Yoo Jung models a chocolate lace coat during the 18th Salon Du Chocolat at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on October 30, 2012 in Paris, France.

My friend Liz sent me a link to an article about this and more chocolate couture. What could be stranger than edible frocks? How about a wedding party who made their clothes from the bi-product of a Christmas dinner staple — Last week Liz  sent me a link to this article about a Turkey feather bridal party from 1948!