Blue Bird of Paradise

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I recently contributed a specimen to Preserved! an online collection exploring Cultures of Preservation curated by Petra Lange-Berndt.

The collection emerged from the AHRC Research Network The Cultures of Preservation. From 2010 to 2012 taxidermists, artists, historians of art and science, curators and London-based institutions such as the Natural History Museum, the Hunterian Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology collaborated for two workshops and a conference. It has been the aim of the network to consider the hybrid status anatomical and zoological specimens, for instance pickled organs or mounted skins, with regards to their aesthetics and to their cultural and political significances.

I submitted an entry about a Blue Bird of Paradise specimen I viewed when I visited New York in the spring as part of my research into the history of the plumage trade for the Fashionign feathers project. The specimen, held in New York Vintage’s permanent collection,  became wildly famous after it perched atop the head of Carrie Bradshaw during the wedding scenes of Sex and the City: The Movie, acting as her something blue.

I was in New York on the hunt for birds-of-paradise. While their natural habitat is over 9000 miles away in the rain forests of Papua New Guinea, I had it on good authority that I could find some particularly intriguing examples at famed Chelsea fashion emporium New York Vintage. NYV is, according to their website, “the ultimate source worldwide for the finest Vintage Couture and Designer Clothing and Accessories”. Their hand-selected permanent archive, which spans over 100 years of fashion history, is the destination of choice for film and TV costume designers in search of that special something. The day I visited the special something I was in pursuit of was an extremely rare Blue Bird-of-paradise. Though rare, the millinery specimen became wildly famous after it perched atop the head of Carrie Bradshaw during the ill-fated wedding scenes of Sex and the City: The Movie, acting as her something blue.”

To read more visit: http://www.preservedproject.co.uk/blue-bird-of-paradise/

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