Real life dress up plays out on the red carpet and Summer styles elevate fantasy and fun. What better way to get red carpet ready that with some ostrich or peacock feathers. While tulle, neon, and oversized brimmed hats have been all over the red carpet and runway, we’re also seeing a resurgence of ostrich and peacock feather used in creation by fashion designers and subsequently worn on red carpets and to events by celebrities, influencers, and style icons. Everyone from Christian Siriano to Parabal Gurung used the lightweight textile within their collection. However, do you know the history of how it came to be and was popularized?
Ostrich feathers as textile material for clothing and ensembles has a history rooted in Africa. At the very tip of the continent, located in South Africa, is the town of Oudtshoorn. This is referenced as the Ostrich Capital of the World. In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. the use of ostrich feathers were prevalent in fashion, particularly the UK and Europe. The feather prices got to be so high, they were worth more than their weight in gold!
The dexterity and light weight of the feathers made them easy to transport and export. The high prices that the commodity commanded led to transforming a farming community into the upper echelon. In order to display (and spend) their newfound wealth, they would create these Ostrich Feather Palaces. You can view these mansions with embellished stained windows if you visit.
So the next time you see a dress embellished with ostrich feathers, you can know that the trend was made possible by Africa! Click through our gallery to see the textile and other feathered fashion on some of your favorite Black and Latina actresses.
1. CYNTHIA ERIVOSource:Getty
Cynthia Erivo stunned at the 2019 Tony Swards with these yellow and white ostrich feathers.
2. JANELLE MONAESource:Getty
Janelle Monae wore Christian Siriano to The Met Gala.
3. WINNIE HARLOWSource:Getty
Winnie Harlow makes a grand entrance with a peacock jacket.
4. YARA SHAHIDI AND JIMMY FALLONSource:Getty
Yara Shahidi shows us how to do with nude in a fabulous way: with ostrich feather pants.
5. TINA KNOWLES-LAWSONSource:Getty
Tina Knowles-Lawson was was the belle of the ball at the 2019 Wearable Art Gala wearing a fully feathered peacock dress.
6. RHOA ACTRESS TANYA SAMSource:Getty
Real Housewives of Atlanta actress Tanya Sam
7. WINNIE HARLOWSource:Getty
Winnie Harlow attended the 2019 CFDA Awards in style wearing purple ostrich feathers.
8. SELENA GOMEZSource:Getty
Singer Selena Gomez gives us old Hollywood glam with this off the shoulder black ensemble decorated with ostrich feathers on the sleeve.
9. JUSTINE SKYESource:Getty
Justine Skye gives us glam and sex appeal in this mini white dress with an ostrich feather bodice.