This Butterfly Headpiece (2003) by Philip Treacy epitomizes the milliner’s untethered and imaginative approach to design. A swarm of butterflies is assembled from exquisitely worked turkey feathers that were cut, painted and hand-fashioned into delicate, fluttering forms. Butterflies are one of the most potent symbols of collecting. Rooted in taxidermic systems yet resplendent with poetry, the insect occupies a prominent spot in most European Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities. Because of its transformative nature, the butterfly has inspired infinite metaphor, and within the realm of fashion the analogy has particularly flourished. It easily applies to the accessories in the collection of Sandy Schreier, which is full of items that hold the potential for dramatic metamorphosis.
Photographed as part of the exhibit In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection, on view through May 17th, 2020 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.