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.)
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.