[Trendzilla] Feathers and Fringe, the Native American Look

So, again, a whole lot of the same thing has come back for another go this autumn.

Ethnic-inspired clothing and accessories are still here (see: the ikkat prints all over DKNY Fall 2008). The Laurel Canyon hippie thing is still definitely favored by many (see: everything). The next natural, obvious progression? I touched upon this in June 2007, but it’s confusingly still around: Native Americans. Fringed anything (boots, moccasins, purses, blouses), headbands (which spills over into hippie territory as well—you following me here?), ponchos, loose hair (see: the fringed dresses, tooled leather boots, feathered headbands, beaded hems and flowing garments of Anna Sui Fall 2008).

Feathers in general seem to have come with the craze, from the runways to your local Urban Outfitters, where they offer feather necklaces, earrings and even feathers to dangle from your hair (read: too far). Most of this stuff ends up being too costume-y, bordering on cheap and kind of pricey for something everyone else has access to.

Etsy.com has been my go-to place for uncommon accessories, clothing, and all-around handcrafted and totally unique goods you won’t see anyone else wearing. Think of it as an eBay without all the crap—and that includes bidding.

Maryland resident Susan Yin’s Etsy storefront Portobello (portobello.etsy.com), named after the famous market in London, was sort of a serendipitous discovery while searching for peacock feathers one day on the site (let’s just say I was going to be overly ambitious with the Halloween costume this year, but ended up recycling last year’s zombie panda instead). Yin handcrafts the most one-of-a-kind, striking feathered hairpieces I’ve come across.

Some, like the pictured Dahlia Head Piece ($98) from Yin’s bridal collection, are soft, dramatic starbursts of diligently arranged feathers topped by Swarovski crystal and faux pearl clusters. Others are more suitable for daily wear, like the Kate Peacock Headband ($45), featuring a tartan-patterned flower with a vintage glass pearl, flanked by a small bouquet of jewel-tone turquoise peacock feathers on one side.

It’s no surprise when Yin declares her love for femme Edwardian fashions. The pieces are romantic and especially reminiscent of 1920s and 1930s fashion. Yin’s headpieces ooze class and make a bold statement as delicately as possible. Another instant favorite from Portobello is the Aoi Head Piece, a simple arrangement of three peacock feathers with a small border of peacock fringe, completed with a vintage brass flower cab.

Yin runs her Etsy shop full-time—new designs often take anywhere from two to 14 days to “get it just right,” as she puts it. She even takes on countless custom bridal orders, which she says are her favorites—she often gets sent photographs from brides wearing her unique pieces on their big day.


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