Ostrich Feathers in Fashion and Costume Design

Ostrich Feathers in Fashion and Costume Design

May 16th 2024

Getty Image : Designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino show off their latest styles in Paris using  ostrich spads and nandu feathers.

Ostrich feathers have long been synonymous with opulence and elegance, making them a staple in high fashion, stage performances, and costume design. Their unique texture and dramatic flair add a touch of extravagance that is both timeless and versatile. Let's explore how these feathers are used by renowned designers and in iconic productions.

High Fashion

In the world of haute couture, strung ostrich trim feathers are a beloved material for designers looking to create show-stopping pieces. Their light, airy quality and ability to hold vibrant dyes make them ideal for adding movement and texture to garments. Legendary fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, and Valentino have frequently incorporated ostrich feathers into their collections. For instance, Chanel's Spring/Summer 2018 collection featured delicate ostrich feather trims on dresses and jackets, adding a whimsical, feminine touch to classic silhouettes. Valentino's 2019 Haute Couture show also showcased extravagant gowns adorned with cascading ostrich feathers, creating a visual feast of color and texture.

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Red Carpet Glamour: Celebrities often turn to ostrich feathers for their red carpet appearances to make a bold statement. At the 2019 Met Gala, themed "Camp: Notes on Fashion," actress Lupita Nyong'o stunned in a rainbow-colored Versace gown embellished with ostrich feathers, exemplifying the playful and extravagant nature of the theme.

Stage Performances

Ostrich feathers have a long history of gracing the stages of theaters and concert halls, where their dramatic presence can captivate an audience. From the golden age of Hollywood to contemporary pop concerts, these feathers are a key component of memorable stage costumes.

In the 1930s and 1940s, ostrich feathers were a staple in the glamorous costumes of Hollywood starlets. Iconic actress Marlene Dietrich famously wore an ostrich feather gown in the film "Blonde Venus," creating an unforgettable image that cemented the feather's association with old Hollywood allure.

Blonde Vénus : Photo Marlene Dietrich

photo credit : Photo added on January 12, 2017 | Copyright D.R.

Modern Performances: Contemporary artists like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga have also embraced ostrich feathers in their stage costumes. Beyoncé's "Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" featured a dazzling white ostrich feather dress designed by Ralph & Russo, while Lady Gaga often incorporates feathers into her eclectic and avant-garde performance outfits.

Every single Lady Gaga outfit and face mask from the 2020 VMAS

Getty Image

Costume Design

Beyond fashion and stage, ostrich boa feathers play a significant role in theatrical and cinematic costume design. Their ability to convey luxury, fantasy, and extravagance makes them perfect for creating unforgettable characters.

In musical theater, shows like "The Lion King" and "Moulin Rouge!" utilize ostrich feathers to enhance the visual impact of their costumes. "Moulin Rouge!" in particular, known for its lavish and decadent aesthetic, uses feathers extensively in its can-can dancer costumes, adding to the exuberance and energy of the performances.

Costumers for film and TV also rely on ostrich feathers to bring their visions to life. The elaborate feathered headdresses in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" (2013) helped recreate the opulence of the Roaring Twenties, while the HBO series "Game of Thrones" used feathers to add authenticity and richness to its fantasy world.

Ostrich feathers continue to be a cherished material in fashion and costume design, celebrated for their versatility and visual impact. From haute couture runways and red carpet events to stage performances and cinematic masterpieces, these feathers add a touch of drama and elegance that is truly unparalleled. As designers and artists continue to push creative boundaries, ostrich feathers will undoubtedly remain a key element in the world of fashion and costume design.