Indeed, the word “plume” came to us from history – earlier the decorative elements of the ceremonial horse harness were called so. The word “plume” itself is French: it is an ornament made of feathers, often specially dyed in a certain color (from the French plume – “feather”).
As we have already mentioned, initially the harness of horses was decorated with plumes – these were the so-called “sultans”, bunches of feathers on the heads of horses or on the headdresses of the military. They can still be seen today in the appropriate surroundings – for example, in the circus.
In the military decor, the plume not only gave solemnity, but also symbolized power, and also had a practical function – a feather edge could distract attention, or slightly soften the blow to the head. The type and shape of the plume differed depending on the rank.
But most often the plume was used, of course, in the design of women’s clothing and especially headdresses. For the first time, the creation of feather jewelry was mentioned in the charter of the guild of hatters in France in 1480. During the Renaissance, the plume began to spread everywhere, and became the most fashionable and desirable decoration for both men’s and women’s hats, as well as high hairstyles.
An elegant women’s beret, the Spanish current, migrated from Spain to the fashion of that time. These headdresses were lavishly decorated with plumes, giving the woman height and luxury. Interestingly, the Spanish current migrated to other European countries, and both women’s and men’s headdresses were worn.
Men, in turn, wore round caps with or without lapels, with a crown divided into four parts. This simple cap was contrasted by the wide-brimmed hats of the Flemish dandies, with the brim turned away from the face and a huge plume hanging from the crown.
Flat hats with a beret-shaped crown and narrow brim, straight or curved, cut into pieces, fastened or falling, and sometimes wide and stiff, were also richly decorated with plumes – jewels and feathers that were laid along the brim or attached on one side, which emphasized the width of the hat.
Plumed hats were commonly worn both outdoors and indoors, and were rarely removed except in the presence of crowned heads.
For women, elaborate large hats were made, decorated with plumes of red, scarlet, orange, yellow, white and black on jeweled caps, as depicted on the canvases of painters of that era.
Masks, fans, and even perfume bottles were decorated with plumes. Decor with colorful feathers was the most fashionable and common, along with precious stones.
Bursts of interest in the plume were observed until the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. In 1912, the demand for plume feathers was so great that the supply could not keep up with it. Expensive feathers of birds from distant countries were used: ostriches, marabou, herons.
For those who could not afford them, feathers of domestic birds were offered: roosters, geese, turkeys, ducks, as well as birds living in the forests – wild pigeons, partridges, quails, pheasants, owls, golden eagles.
In the 1970s, the Washington Convention banned the use of exotic bird feathers in the fashion industry. Today, feather trimming is unpopular, and if used, it is very rare and on special occasions. A hat with a plume can be found, perhaps, only in a theater, cinema or museum.
In clothing, the plume is still found in wedding or evening fashion, as well as in separate podium collections. Most often, chicken feathers are used, which lend themselves well to coloring.
Alas, the modern pace of life does not involve wearing jewelry that was relevant just a century ago – jewelry, plumes, wide-brimmed hats and even high heels have become almost history. Agree that for everyday use, a delicate bird feather can hardly be called the most practical material.
But if you want to bring a little intrigue and play into everyday life, go back to history or create a special, festive mood – feel free to include a plume in your image, and you will not go unnoticed.