Every year, trends seem to fall straight from the sky into our homes. I mean that literally. You'll recall, several years back, the butterfly trend, soon joined by the dragonfly trend. The highly stylized winged insects appeared on everything from wall art to water glasses, from T-shirts to tattoos.
Then the bird trend flocked to stores. And now … coming soon to (if not already in) a store near you … feathers.
I first spotted the new feather trend while traveling a couple of weeks ago. I emerged from my hermit hole of work and home and, like an endangered species, made a rare foray into the real world. It was still going on. I stayed long enough to notice a flurry of feather flourishes in fashions and furnishings.
Then, while flying home, flipping through the latest Elle Décor, I fell on a plume-filled page. Feathers were featured in jewelry, tableware, wall coverings, fabrics, apparel, china and pillow covers.
To confirm my suspicion that a new fad was in the air, I floated my feather findings by a top home-furnishing buyer. "Is it true?" I asked Devin Kirk, vice president of merchandising for Jayson Home, an upscale retail store in Chicago, which also sells home furnishings online at jaysonhome.com. "Are feathers rising?"
"Oh, definitely," he said. "While the feather is a classic motif that's been around for centuries, they are definitely ramping up in a full-blown way."
Among the new-for-fall feathered furnishings flying off the shelves at Jayson Home are framed feather prints, serving trays with imprinted feather images and decorative throw pillows actually covered (and filled) with feathers.
"We can't keep them in stock," Kirk says.
"Isn't the feather fad — like the butterfly and dragonfly motifs that swarmed homes — destined to flutter then sputter?" I ask.
"We like to think we're working with timeless ideas that won't be out of fashion any time soon," said Kirk. "But it's always hard to say when you're in the middle of it. We can't tell why one trend fades while another one stays."
He has reason to believe this feather phase won't go the way of the dragonfly.
"There is something chic about feathers," Kirk said. "You can't say that about dragonflies. They may be cool, but they're not chic."
"Why are feathers tickling our fancy just now?" I ask.
"The economy has made consumers feel pent up for a long time. They are ready for something a little exorbitant."
"And feathers feel fancy," I say. Cue the lightbulb.
"Feathers blend nature and glamour," Kirk said. "The two worlds rarely collide. For some, they represent flight and evoke feelings of lightness and freedom.
"Then count me in."
Though they may be just another flying fancy, feathers, both real and illustrated, are fashion forward this fall. Folks are flocking to furnishings and fashions featuring feathers. Here are some ways Kirk says you can update your nest:
•Feathers forward. Look for plumes this fall in wall decor, fabrics, dishes, jewelry, clothing, tableware, home accessories and more.
•Soft touches. To fluff your nest with the new look, try sticking feathers of the same type in a vase either alone or mixed with branches. Tack a few to a bulletin board. Fill a shadow box. Tuck them in a napkin ring, or top a gift by tying a feather on with a piece of raffia. For a little more commitment, cover a small bench or chair with feather-printed fabric, or paper an accent wall with a wall covering bearing a feather motif.
•Feathers for every mood. Plumes run the gamut in feel and color, said Kirk. Pheasant feathers say fall and are great around Thanksgiving. Ostrich feathers say fancy, and peacock feathers say exotic. They come in hues bold and bright, in subtle tones of brown and taupe, and in high contrast black and white.
•Where to buy. You can find feathers in bulk by the bag at craft stores or online. Steer clear of dyed feathers, says Kirk. Stick to ones in natural colors. "A skilled designer may be able to pull off a good look with dyed feathers, but for most, it's not a risk you want to take."
•Feather faux pas. A feather accent, such as a pillow adorned with feathers, is "a beautiful little 'wow' moment," but too many feathery items can backfire, said Kirk. "Limit it. A little goes a long way."
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of "House of Havoc" and "The House Always Wins" (Da Capo Press).