My interest in taxidermy is far from original, a part of the current taste for taxidermy in the alternative fashion zeitgeist. A sub-sect of experimental and daring designers has embraced the preserved remains of deceased animals. Current forays into taxidermy fashion have remained within the female sphere but a recently spotted image of a bird as a bow-tie at OhJamie.com may mark a breakthrough for male taxidermy accessories.
The recent desire for the deceased arguably began with ‘Widows of Culloden’, A/W 2011, one of Alexander McQueen’s many controversial collections. The taxidermied carcasses of three birds of prey, a common theme of his work were mounted upon a dress. Positioned in swooping positions, the model looks simultaneously in fear of an attack and in awe of the bird’s beauty. For me this a bizarre juxtaposition of human vulnerability and animal dominance in a situation where it is an animal corpse used for human aesthetic pleasure. Whatever the underlying meaning, the image is beautiful and understandably inspired a wave of taxidermy inspired creations.
Reid Peppard’s bird wing inspired head-pieces and rodent-accessories clearly owe a debt to McQueen. Peppard’s accessories are in your face and obvious. A statement for the fashion forward, they are serious conversation piece at any fashion party. My personal favourites of the taxidermy creations are woodland animal inspired footwear with moulded mole shoes by Niels van Eijk Mirjam van der Lubbe and Alexander Fielden’s hedgehog shoes. Fielden has gone one step further, incorporating the features of the animal into the design in a manner that is a little less gimmicky than its counterparts. The clothing and accessories discussed so far are highly gendered and do not seem to offer an easy transition into male fashion.
Wondering how best I could incorporate taxidermy into my wardrobe, I used the piece from OhJamie as inspiration. My mind couldn’t get past the bow-tie, slim line tie image. I tried to turn this to my advantage and envisaged a series of butterflies pinned down a long thick tie or a single butterfly replicating the bow of a tie. Images of a squirrel peaking over the shoulder of a blazer seem to reminiscent of Captain Hook's parrot. The next few weeks will be spent scouring the pages of ebay for the perfect taxidermy adornment for a bow-tie.