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Peacocks in Fashion and Lingerie Throughout History

Friday Jun 08 2018

Juliette red and gold peacock underbust corset

Do you ever think about why fashion trends exist? Many of us simply pick up the latest trends and wear them without thinking about their origins. In fact, many trends that are in fashion now have a long and multi-cultural history that goes back thousands of years! Today, we’re going to take a look at one of our favorites: peacocks and peacock feathers. 

Juliette red and gold silk nightgown by Harlow & Fox

Male versus Female:

Do you know that the beautifully decorated peacocks you see are all male? Female peacocks are actually fairly plain, so as to better hide themselves and their young from predators. Male peacocks attract females with their bold looks, so they have evolved differently. This is one of the reasons that peacocks have historically been associated with themes like pride and vanity. 

Juliette red and gold silk Kimono by Harlow & Fox

East versus West:

Peacocks have been represented in art and literature going back as far as the bible. Peacocks have been assigned all sorts of mythical and cultural histories, from links to early Christianity to birds favored by the Greek goddess Hera. The earliest known peacocks in western art were blue and came from India. Once Japan opened up for trade in the 1800’s, artists discovered the green peacock and started incorporating them into fashion and artwork as well. 

Asian influence eventually came to dominate art and fashion, in an era far before anyone had thought of a concept like cultural appropriation. Peacocks and other “Asian” themes were built into the most fashionable clothing of the day, without much regard for what they represented in other cultures. Part of their early popularity was based on the feathers: all the colors in them made them easy to recreate in fashion and accessories. 

Juliette red and gold metallic Suspender by Harlow & Fox

The Peacock Goes to Hollywood:

In the early 1900’s, peacocks made the leap from fashion to the movies. By this point, peacocks were associated with luxury, exotic locations and romance. While peacock feathers had been incorporated into other art forms before, designers now went bigger and started designing heavy gowns and accessories created entirely from real peacock feathers. While these gowns were spectacular, they were impractical and difficult for the wearer to actually move in. While peacock feathers had started out being associated with negative characteristics like pride and vanity, they now became something to aspire to. 

Juliette red and gold silk Kimono by Harlow & Fox

Peacocks in Modern Fashion and Lingerie:

Peacocks have such a long and storied fashion history that they’ve now attained a sort of permanently popularity. Peacock inspired clothing and lingerie can still be seen every season on runways and in stores. Vintage gown’s frequently featured embroidered or sequined peacocks, while current fashions often use their colors and their feathers as a repeating pattern. 

Cassiopeia Beaded Kimono by Harlow & Fox


The Juliette Collection:

Our latest collection utilizes a luxurious peacock feather embroidery to produce a sheer effect when paired with red silk. We love the texture it gives each piece as well as the gold peek-a-boo effect that each piece achieves. The collection contains a wide variety of pieces, from a corset to traditional bra and panty sets. If you’re looking for something less fitted, the Juliette Kimono features yards of red silk and a gorgeous peacock lace trim for a truly glamorous boudoir look. 

 To find out more about peacocks and their place in art and fashion, check out these articles at The Art Of Dress.