Flights of Fancy: A Feather Trend Re-Emerges


Does the current trend for boho glam mean more than meets the eye?

Fashion’s ability to reflect society’s struggles and sensibilities is well documented throughout costume history. The fashions of the 1920s are a great example. With the end of the war and the rise of the suffragette movement and an emerging middle class, the world was full of choices for the ’20s woman. Shorter hemlines, dropped waists, bobbed hair, the use of wool jersey and the availability of relatively inexpensive colorful costume jewelry created a style of clothing that a woman could work in, move in and assert herself in, representing a major shift in women’s lives at the time.

With the stores currently full of ’70s full-leg pants, floor sweeping scarfs, maxi skirts, lace, leopard and liberty prints, what is being expressed by today’s clear embrace of all things bohemian? And for that matter, what is bohemian?

This week has seen a series of coincidences involving feathers, the ultimate symbol of boho glam. It started with an awareness of the birds singing unusually loudly outside my window on the morning the news hit about the devastating tsunami in Japan. Driving to yoga later on, the Jimi Hendrix CD I’d randomly grabbed on the way out  got inexplicably stuck on one track, Hendrix’s American Indian-inspired Bohemian Rhapsody, “Little Wing.”

Friday night, I sat at the edge of a runway show as a series of glorious silhouettes strutted past, but my eyes were looking beyond, upwards to the feathery hats and mohawks adorning the model’s heads. Over the weekend, I startled when the wind blew the French doors open knocking a little bird – a decoration from a wedding centerpiece I’d kept – off its permanent perch on top of my computer. By Sunday brunch, I wasn’t at all surprised when a new friend carrying a tin of feathers sat down and offered to weave my very own plume of rooster feathers into my hair.  Sitting outside at a cafe table as it began to rain, I was the picture of calm with feathers weaved like highlights through my hair. It’s most unlike me. Reader, I have been fea-dazzled!

Love Child Feather Hair Extensions

A huge trend with young girls right now, feather extensions are all the rage in Hollywood. It’s nothing new, of course. In the ’70s, girls were using roach clips caught with feather bundles to achieve the same look (be sure to dust off your crimpers as that is also back).

I’m inclined to believe this is all a sure signal of a fashion subconscious at work. According to my comprehensive research i.e. Duncan, from Wellington, N.Z., “Patterns that emerge through coincidences or synchronicities are believed to demonstrate connection with the subconscious and super-conscious,” according to your preference for either Jung or Eastern sages, respectively.

Regardless of your philosophical views, with a little age comes a well-earned amount of self assurance that entitles you to say “Why not?” to a bit of self-indulgent styling. A naive touch, like wearing a feather in your hair, appears to me to connect to our collective sense of hope for a better world right now – or perhaps, a heart’s desire to fly far away from unnecessary war, regressive politics and environmental devastation. If you’re inclined to agree, allow me to point you towards a more convenient expression of hippie wanderlust in these ethereally beautiful feather earrings (see above). They’re handmade ethically by Heidi Roland in Philadelphia and are available now at ecocitizenonline. “Fly on little wing, fly on.”




Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.