Fashion Is Suddenly Flocking to Feathers, with Rihanna and Her “Yeti Boots” Leading the Way
The industry’s peacocks are getting meta with this year’s feather trend, which has made the red carpets and runways at shows like Saint Laurent and Moschino much, much fluffier.
Last fall, Miuccia Prada‘s Spring 2017 collection revived many of her greatest hits—except that, amidst the usual minimal black dresses, bold handbags, and cacophonous prints, there was a much fluffier addition. Marabou and ostrich feathers decorated hems, cuffs, necklines, chests, sandals, and even silky pajamas, ranging from earthy tones to can’t-miss yellows and pinks.
Feathers showed up in Prada’s next collection earlier this year, too, though they were missing from this season’s; instead, Prada seemed to have passed them on to other designers, who’ve finally taken her hint. That much was clear at shows like Moschino, which Kaia Gerber, who managed to ascend to supermodel-dom over the course of a single season, opened in a giant pastel blue feather tutu, making way for a series of models who matched her in pink and purple. Even Alberta Ferretti, who made a concerted effort to rid of embellishments this season, snuck in some feathers on her various gowns and shift dresses.
By the time the season ended in Paris, Saint Laurent had opened its show with fuzzy appendages sprouting from the sandals parading down the runway, which gave way to several pairs of knee-high, feather-tiered shoes that were quickly termed “yeti boots”—not that that stopped Rihanna from snatching them up days later.
Rihanna has hardly been the only one to jump on the trend: Feathers have also become something of a red carpet phenomenon this year, and not just because Rihanna also showed up to a premiere of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets this summer in sunglasses and a hot pink, feathery ensemble from Prada’s Fall 2017 collection. A couple of months earlier, Blake Lively and Sarah Paulson both showed up to the Met Gala with feathery appendages, apparently inspiring those who typically play it relatively safe on the red carpet, like Laura Dern, to give the trend a go. (Dern did so at the Emmy Awards, where she joined a flock of birds that included Zoë Kravitz, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Priyanka Chopra.)
Blake Lively, Rihanna, and Zoe Kravitz Show How to Wear Feathers with Ease
Zoe Kravitz attends the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Blake Lively attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
Rihanna attends Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Paris Premiere at La Cite Du Cinema on July 25, 2017 in Saint-Denis, France. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)
Laura Dern arrives at the opening ceremony of the 43rd Deauville American Film Festival on September 1, 2017 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois G. Durand/WireImage)
Hailey Baldwin attends The Art of Elysium presents Stevie Wonder’s HEAVEN – Celebrating the 10th Anniversary at Red Studios on January 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
Janelle Monae attends Los Angeles Confidential Magazine and CIROC Ultra-Premium Vodka celebrate the Spring Oscars issue with Janelle Monae at Palihouse West Hollywood on February 22, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Katy Perry arrives at The 59th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
Lupita Nyong’o attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Sarah Paulson attends “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
Elle Fanning attends Fondazione Prada Private Dinner during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Restaurant Fred L’Ecailler on May 22, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for Prada)
Lily Collins attends a private event to honor Anna Wintour being appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire on June 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
Ruth Negga arrives at the premiere of AMC’s “Preacher” Season 2 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on June 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Penelope Cruz walks the red carpet ahead of the ‘Loving Pablo’ screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 6, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)
Kate Bosworth attends the ‘Miu Miu Women’s Tales’ photocall during the 74th Venice Film Festival at on August 31, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)
Priyanka Chopra walks the red carpet during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
Poppy Delevingne attends the ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ World Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Keri Russell arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
Tracee Ellis Ross arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Natalia Vodianova attends the Christian Dior show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2018 on September 26, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
Naomi Campbell attends the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia 2017 during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 on September 24, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/Getty Images)
Indeed, the phenomenon has become so pronounced that last week, the New Yorker published a nearly 8,000-word examination on why humans have been dressing up as birds since the Stone Age—and especially since we’ve entered the 21st century. The simple answer, of course, is because birds and their feathers are beautiful, as designers like Prada have now repeatedly illustrated. Here’s hoping that the cruelty-free Stella McCartney is the next to get behind the trend, though, because extracting hundreds of feathers for a single dress can’t exactly be painless for our avian forebears.
Related: See How Dior Made Elle Fanning’s Couture Gown, Which Was Covered in Hundreds of Feathers
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