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Millinery Feathers / Hat of the Day Sketch – 1930s straw hat with wings & veiling

May 13, 2010

Don’t know if you knew this, but the 1880s through the early 20th century saw the near decimation of many bird populations due to millinery trends.  In fact, the penchant for our fine feathered friends to wind up piled high on headwear – sometimes with multiple species on one hat! – led to the creation of the Audubon Society and contributed to the modern conservation movement.  You can read a fascinating Audubon Society article about this important shift in American attitudes toward nature here.

The recent surge in popularity of feather fascinators and increased use of feathers in millinery has led me to question the source of all these feathers, particularly exotic feathers like peacock.  Therefore, I have begun looking for an ethical source of feathers for use in Millinerium hats.  I would prefer using feathers that have fallen off the bird naturally, rather than being plucked.  The only exceptions to this would be feathers from birds we eat like chickens, ducks, and geese, which must be plucked for the bird to be edible.  Naturally, if I can source feathers from these fowl which were raised free-range and slaughtered humanely, that would be ideal.  If you happen to know of a good source for ethically-produced feathers, please comment below or drop me a line.  I would love to hear your suggestions.

I believe that millinery (and fashion) trends do not require us to divorce our sense of ethics from our sense of fun.  Surely we can encourage the growing awareness that our actions have consequences and still manage to dress stylishly.  I, for one, intend to pursue this goal!  Care to join me?

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Hat of the Day Sketch

Today’s HOTD is a wide brimmed straw hat from the late 1930s trimmed with navy grosgrain ribbon, millinery fruit, lacquered bird wings, and navy veiling tied around the crown and trailing in the back.  Perfect for a day of motoring or a picnic by the beach!

1930s straw hat with veiling & bird wings

As always, please feel free to comment on this post below.  If you like what you see here, subscribe to this blog for more great millinery stuff!


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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 10:15 am

    There are a lot of backyard peacock owners (unfortunately for those who have to listen to the things crying like colicky infants at 4:00 am), and most fanciers collect the feathers as they fall. Bear in mind though that few fallen feathers are in great condition. Also, most peacocks spend at least the night hours in a smallish pen which tends to shread and bend the longer feathers.

    Ditto for parrot reathers. You can ask local pet shops who sell macaws to collect the feathers for you but the longer tail feathers are often very damaged from knocking against the wire cages.

    Since ostrich are now farmed for their meat there is probably no shortage of good condition plucked feathers from that species.

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