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Art of the Peacock: A Global Trendsetter

Proudly perched in an iridescent trail of feathers and draped in brilliant blue green hues, the peacock has influenced the world for centuries with its beauty. Admired in religions, myths, and folklore, the ornate peacock has inspired designs embedded in art, architecture, and fashion within cultures all over the world. For centuries, Western society has associated exotic luxury with the bird, the male peacock a popular motif in women’s fashion, particularly between 1894 to 1920.

I recreated the ornate splendor of the peacock in my most recent above Styled by Svec painting on a once plain white Amazon top. A series of intricate feather like patterns encompass the corset, in deep blues, greens, purples, teal and gold. 6 months in the making, this piece stands out as its colors and pattern illuminate the rarity of the peacock’s design in corset form.

Peacock adornments in previous centuries signified status and wealth, only high society women preened in the likeness of the bird. The above 1896 Edgar Maxence painting reflects a profile shot of a woman basking in an enclave of peacock feathers.

Eastern cultures have long praised the peacock, which represents both beauty and dignity. Originally from today’s Myanmar, the green peacock found its way to Japan in the 17th century and became embedded in cultural aesthetics and traditions. The kimono above, from 1906 Japan, displays the bird along with cherry blossoms, a symbol of spring.

The peacock made its debut in the iconic Vogue magazine circa 1906, posed in all its glory, a trail of feathers draping into the ground.

At the turn of the century, the proud stature and expansive tail of the peacock made its way to accessories and jewelry. Fans were an indespensible part of the women’s ensemble, with the sweeping arch of the peacock making for the perfect silhouette of the fan.

The grandiose bird made its way to Hollywood royalty on flappers and starlets alike, becoming more bold in design. The above peacock headpiece on Gloria Swanson as Lady Mary Lasenby makes for a daring statement on set or on stage.

The innate allure of the nature around us leads to a world of inspiration to the eye and to the painting brush. The centuries old influence of the peacock demonstrates the impact of the bird in its many magnificent forms of art.

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