Fashion Flock
October 2, 2009

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You know, sometimes things are just in the air – like runway trends, even though insiders like to say it’s because designers go to the same European fabric shows or their assistants all talk to each other. I was reminded of that when I picked up last week’s New Yorker and saw Susan Orlean’s article, “The It Bird.” Though once scorned, a lowly farm animal is in vogue again – I’m talking about the chicken!

Of course it all started with Martha. Stewart, that is. Her first book, Entertaining, “featured her flock of rare-breed chickens and their pretty pastel-colored eggs,” Orlean writes. “The photographs of Stewart with her flock were a revelation.” And Martha stayed loyal to her girls when she started her magazine, “and often featured her chickens in Ford-model-style head shots that made them look ennobled; she also introduced her first paint collection, which was based on egg colors from her flock.”

buo_1_sI just about fell over when I saw the article, and here I’m getting to my point about things being out there in the either.  In July, I had spent my annual and awaited East Hampton weekend at the home of my dear friend George and his partner Norman. George is an avid rose gardener (his beds stunningly planted at the edge of a forest!) and one day we paid a call “in town” to an elderly gardening friend of his who had been a bit unwell.  There in the village of East Hampton, “Camellia Jim” welcomed us into his historic home and out to see his yard, shaded by tall hedges and ringing with show tunes emanating from the neighboring summer house of a Broadway star.  But what caught my eye and stayed long in my imagination was the flock of exquisite chickens running to and fro underfoot, which I later learned were Buff Offingtons, prized for their deep gold color, winter-proof thick feathers and stately disposition.

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Reminded of that sunny afternoon by Orlean’s article, I started seeing the spring collections in a whole new dappled light. New York’s young Turk Joseph Altuzarra had taken a detour from his sharp-shouldered draped minis to a collection of buff browns, surprisingly combined with delicate white dimity. Where some thought Woodstock, I saw an updated take on Green Acres, barnyard-born style for the city street.

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Over in Milan, Alberta Ferretti got buff too by working a similar color scheme and topping her little dresses with aprons, just the thing for gathering up some farm-fresh eggs early in the morning. And 00730mKarl Lagerfeld at Fendi also seemed to have been hanging around the coop with his delicate buff gown. He even complemented his country-girl collection with go-to-market burlap handbags with a button-off floral-embroidered cover, as the humble but I’m sure equally expensive successor to the Fendi Baguette. At this rate, how long can it be until we see delicately-hued Buff Offingtons and Buff Cochins clucking around the feet of models in Vogue? (As it is, the random photograph I found on online at the top of this column of an English lad, his pet chicken and a buddy, is barely a step away from a fashion shot.)  Right now, the fashion flock is in Paris, and I’m hoping feathers will fly on the runway. C’est chick.

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