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Mar 20 - Aug 24

MoMu Mode Museum, Nationalestraat 28, Antwerp, , 2000, Belgium
  • Ann Demeulemeester, A/W 2010-2011, Photo by Dan Lecca

  • Thierry Mugler Haute Couture a/w 1997-1998, photo by Boy Kortekaas

  • Blue Angel, a/w 2012-2013, Roger Vivier


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“Birds of Paradise: Plumes and Feathers in Fashion” exhibition at Antwerp’s Mode Museum

A new exhibition, titled “Birds of Paradise”, at the Mode Museum of Antwerp (MoMu) aims to cast a light on the application of plumes and feathers in fashion and haute couture from the 20th century up to the present. The exhibition explores the craft of the “plumassier”, which dates back to the 17th and 18th century, and the diverse techniques of feather embroidery, in collaboration with Maison Lemarié of Paris, who are worldwide famous for their technical expertise and the innovative methods they use to process feathers. Furthermore, it showcases a wide range of accessories, garments and couture dresses that highlight the different characteristics of plumes and feathers, among them sophistication, femininity, lightness, wealth, luxury, innocence and dark romance, by designers of the likes of Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Givenchy, Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Luis Vuitton, Thierry Mugler, Giambatista Valli and Yves Saint Laurent.

“Birds of Paradise” take us on a historical journey, from the first ostrich, pheasant and marabou accessories of the Belle Époque to the boas and hats of the twenties and from the feather applications of Dior, Balenciaga and Chanel to Marlene Dietrich’s notorious white swan-down coat that marked an entire generation of film costumes. It also features creations by contemporary fashion designers that have found inspiration in plumes and feathers, like Alexander McQueen, whose goal was to transpose the beauty of a bird to women, or Ann Demeulemeester, who described pigeon feather as poetry of the mundane. The fashion pieces are juxtaposed with artworks by artists of the likes of Kate MccGwire, known for primarily working with pigeon and crow feathers, or 17th century Dutch painter Melchior d’Hondecoeter, who painted exclusively bird subjects and won international acclaim with his vigorous and brightly colored canvases. What’s more, the exhibition includes a part of the collection of BKBIN, the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, primarily displaying birds whose feathers are exhibited in the showcase. “Birds of Paradise” will be on view until August 24, 2014, at the Mode Museum of Antwerp.