I appear to be collecting peacocks. To my mind they have this other-world-like quality, as if they belong in the realm of fantasy and make-believe (I have similar feelings about Kingfishers and Hot Air Balloons).
I captured these fellows from some tiles on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (an amazing place to visit if you’re ever in the city):
And these somewhat inspired this cushion which, as promised in my previous post ‘For the Love of Buttons’ is now finished:
Not sure it’s fulfilling its purpose in life since I covered it in buttons, it is far from comfortable, but hey when the muse pounces what can you do? At least that’s my button-loving self satisfied for a while.
Oh and there’s my Pinterest board containing an ever-growing collection Peacock-related lovelies if you fancy a browse.
But I think one of the most fabulous examples of peacock inspired-ness is the Peacock Dress on display at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire. Designed by Worth of Paris in 1903, this two-piece gown is literally covered with peacock feathers embroidered in gold, silver and rose threads. It was made especially for Mary Lady Curzon, the Vicereine of India, for the Delhi Durbar Ball, an event held to celebrate the succession of Edward VII.
A replica sample of the embroidery, by Cathy Hay, shares the display case with the dress, and gives an idea of how vibrant the now faded fabric would have looked. The Delhi Durbar Ball was by all accounts an awe inspiring event of great pomp and splendour. Apparently the use of electric lights, a significant statement of wealth, was one of the influences behind the choice of fabric, so that the embroidered feathers would shine and dazzle. One guest is quoted to have said “You cannot conceive what a dream she looked”.
Yet, as with many women married to men of political standing, the choice of attire was not merely to look beautiful. The use of peacock feathers, a symbol of Indian Royalty, was believed to be a deliberate attempt to unify British rule with Indian heritage. Lady Curzon, married to one of the most significant and powerful men in British occupied India, was dressing to impress on behalf of her husband that night. Due to the heavily embroidered fabric, the dress weighs in the region of 4.5 kg, and is thought to have been somewhat itchy on the skin – this dress was not designed for comfort but to play a part in assisting her husband’s career as Viceroy of India. The power of fashion!
Make what you will of the politics, what I find so fascinating about this dress is the workmanship and artistry that went into its creation. The intricacy of the fabric, the clever construction, and the over-all effect of the design is simply stunning. So worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
Hmmm, feeling somewhat inspired to make a peacock-influenced outfit…perhaps not on this scale, there’s not much call for a ball-gown in my life right now, but I have a feeling there is something of peacock-related beauty inside me waiting to be realised one day. I’ll let you know when I get around to making it, whatever it may be…
Pleased to be linking up with: