Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rick Edwards on fashion: bird motifs

Hong Kong Newport International Madrid Group
It's unseemly to brag, but I am writing this column from the hotel in Gambia that Chris Packham stays in. The Chris Packham. From The Really Wild Show. Chris isn't actually here now, but his legacy is writ large. Pictures of him adorn every surface*, alongside photos of a host of exotic birds. Because Gambia is a birdwatching hotspot – a twitchers' paradise. That is not why I'm here (I'm here because it's sunny and I like taking malaria tablets), but it is a real boon.
I've always had an affinity with birds. We had budgies when I was a kid and used to make regular trips to Birdworld, which is the sort of place that certainly wouldn't raise the hackles of the Trades Description enforcers. I also dimly remember that, at some point during my youth, I stayed in a room that had owl wallpaper (flock wallpaper?). A repeating print of a variety of owls. I loved it.
"Brilliant – he likes birds. What the hell's that got to do with men's fashion?" Fair point. I'm getting there. Last summer I coveted a Marc Jacobs short-sleeved shirt with a wonderful parakeet print. Packham might step in here and say that they were, in fact, lories or macaws, but you get the point. A shirt with loads of little parrots on. Unfortunately, despite trying the shirt on three times and examining it online, I didn't buy it. I bottled it. I thought it was perhaps too bold. And it's now unavailable and I am very disappointed in myself.
So imagine my unconfined joy when I was sharking around a menswear department recently and found a dark navy Ami shirt absolutely covered with birds – including my total favourite, the mighty kingfisher. And there are matching shorts! Obviously under no circumstances should the two be worn together. Well, maybe on your birthday.
Buoyed by this discovery, I did some online trawling and located several other avian garments, including a snazzy weekend bag from Herschel and a spectacular swallow shirt from my Scandibrand of choice, Our Legacy. I am planning to dress the shirts "down" with shorts and loafers, and "up" underneath a simple dark suit or blazer. All while brandishing a pair of binoculars, of course.
There is an option to take my bird crush further. As someone who likes accessorising – which shouldn't be a word, but there you go – with a pocket square, my eye has been caught by an exciting alternative: the feather lapel pin. They are not easy to come by but you should be able to source one in a decent vintage shop. Ethically I'm not sure I could endorse a "new" one anyway. Feathers look best on living birds. I remember hearing that on The Really Wild Show.
Hong Kong Newport International Madrid Group

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