How to wear... feathers
Get ready for autumn fashion to ruffle your plumage this season with some delicately trimmed pieces, writes Meadhbh McGrath
For some of us, feathers will conjure up dreamy visions of the boudoir, of marabou slippers and feather-trimmed negligees. For others, they smack of boa-bedecked hen parties and Ann Summers.
But this season, fashion is determined to make you wear plumes, and designers have offered up their own interpretations of the look, from flirty lingerie-inspired pieces to sharp tailoring to granny chic knitwear.
Miuccia Prada has been advocating feathers since last season, with marabou-adorned knee-length skirts, camisole tops and cheongsam-style pyjamas that A-listers like Sienna Miller and Alexa Chung quickly took to the red carpet.
But for autumn-winter, feathers are out in full force - at Prada, thick trims in bright aqua and coral shades decorated pencil skirts, coats and hats, while JW Anderson added graceful ostrich feathers to stretchy jersey dresses. The gowns at Alexander McQueen were finished off with feathered cuffs and hems, and at Calvin Klein, plumes sprayed over cocktail numbers.
Balenciaga provided a major Instagram moment with its closing look, a floor-length gown and supersized tote bag smothered in delicate ostrich feathers. It was stunning, if not exactly wearable. The good news is that there are plenty of accessible feathered pieces arriving in stores that mean you can take the trend as far as you like this season.
Dip your toe in with a pair of feathered shoes (Prada's satin sandals are the dream buy, but there are some excellent wallet-friendly options on the high street too), a clutch bag or drop earrings, and streamline the rest of your outfit. Or take it up a notch and mirror your accessories with a feather-trimmed skirt or dress for a show-stopping party look.
Feather hems might seem like a little girl's game, but there's no age limit on this trend. Julianne Moore and Laura Dern have both stepped out in Raf Simons' feathered creations for Calvin Klein, and Nicole Kidman frequently favours feathers on the red carpet (remember those giant Gucci parrots sprouting from her shoulders at the SAG awards?).
We like her best in black, whether it's covered in Chanel sequins and feathers with sharp shoulders at a Cannes gala, or a more simple look like this dramatic velvet Marchesa gown with feathered neckline. It's gorgeously elegant, and the trim adds just the right touch of exuberance.
For workwear, Zara's white shirt with feathers spraying from the shoulders brings some levity to a pair of slacks or a pencil skirt. For a fuss-free take on the trend, pick up one of Christopher Kane's feather brooches, and pin it on to a tailored suit. A feather-trimmed high-rise skirt in 1950s-inspired tweed looks polished with a crepe blouse tucked in or a plain crew-neck knit layered over it, or dress down a feathered camisole by layering over a fine knit black polo neck.
If you're keen to get away from the girlishness, try a pair of straight leg jeans with feathered hems and toughen them up with a biker jacket and pointed heels. Simone Rocha sent models down the runway in tulle dresses with feather trims, but gave them an edge with thick wool socks and pool slides. Pair yours with shiny black brogues for a look that feels edgy and contemporary.
It makes sense we'd turn to some frivolous fashion detailing for an antidote to the everyday chaos of modern life. So take flight this season and put a little extra flutter in your walk.