Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Brandon Flowers the Trendsetter: Feathers on Shoulders

*Scroll down a bit if you're a feather-aware BFlo obsessive and just want to get to the good stuff*

This post is about feathers.

Feathers on Shoulders.
As worn by this lovely man, Brandon Flowers of the Killers:
And many others, both famous and not, soon after him. Yeah, he's looking at you all badass-like because he knows he can start a ridiculous trend with a snap of his fingers.

Before I go into more details and pictures, I want to explain my Theory of the Feather Epaulets.

Brandon has started many trends. Thanks to the Internet's impressive memory, I have the ability to prove this point instead of just looking as if I'm talking out of my ass. He was at least very instrumental in the inception of these trends, even though he never gets any actual credit other than in (uhum) obscure blogs. He's not 'cool' enough / not famous enough in Middle America to get major media credit.

You might scoff, but I can prove that he was among the creators if not the main originator of the following major revival trends, and many more:

--The Bruce Springsteen hero worship going on in the past year and a half or so in the indie music scene. Brandon was already at it in 2005, and when he discussed it in 2006 most were either shocked or laughed or bashed to no end. However, today it's pretty much a rule that alternative rock fans must glorify the Boss (mini-proof).
--'Guyliner' (eyeliner for men) in 2005. He stopped that year but the trend continued into '07 and even today with Adam Lambert and such. (mini-proof).
--Mustaches- his debuted in early '06 and got a ridiculous amount of backlash. Choice quote - "who grows a mustache these days?!" Well, no one can ask that today. The stache became a bona fide trend in early 2007 and is still worn by Bflo-hating hipsters in Brooklyn and liberal arts colleges, including mine (mini-proof and another).
--Wayfarers. Yup, those Risky Business sunglasses you see all the hipsters and everyone else in the fucking world wearing? He virtually spearheaded that revival back in 2006 (mini-proof).

Phew. Trust me, music snobs and hipsters would prefer to keel over and die than admit that their trends were started by a man they want dead ("I hate Brandon Flowers" in quotes returns over 2,000 results on Google). But that's okay. They don't have to. I'm here to document it anyway.

So. This finally brings us to feathers on shoulders.
My Shoulder Plumage Theory (the name changes) is that Brandon eventually had enough of this BS. He was all, "WTF? Everyone keeps copying my shit and I don't even get any credit in the end? Fuck that. I'm gonna do something crazy." (Obviously Brandon Flowers talks like that). So he hired Fee Doran aka 'Mrs. Jones' to make a nutso feather monstrosity of a jacket for him. She did Kylie Minogue's outfits, so he knew she was up for the challenge. He mst have said something like, "Oh Mrs. Jones, please create a garment that I and only I would wear and no one else in their right mind would possibly want to copy. Especially not hipsters." Or something. And she did it. The feather jacket was born. And many others would come after it, designed by others as well. All with feathers. Brando became a bird shoulder man, basically.

Now behold, the many feather epaulet jackets (and other, slightly more vague shoulder adornments) that have graced BFlo the bird master:

On the cover of Paper magazine, a sort of mixed plumage... thing on a blue blazer. Paper magazine, as in hipster magazine #1?!! What?! Yes, yes. He was on the cover this year. Deal with it and simmer down, hipsters.
Here he is wearing a... um. This is really difficult. Power Rangers villain cape? Disney bird prince fighting gear? I don't think anyone knows, but IT has feathers on the shoulders, that much is clear. This was from a musician photo shootthe New York Times magazine did at Coachella this year when TK headlined. Brandon is in fact pictured here with Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. ...Um woh, get an inhaler or something hipsters. Eesh. You can get through these trying times. They're probably not friends in real life... Yes, take that seat. it's okay.Here he is at a Q magazine photoshoot, which was apparently inspired by a movie called Mad Max or something. I don't even now. Feather football warrior gear? Eh, I give up.
Lest you think he's a one-time feather football dresser, Brandon dressed in a red version of the aforementioned garb in the Spaceman video. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the ultimate feather explosion.
He wore it again for his article with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan in Blackbook magazine. He is with his baby son Ammon (born July '07). That baby is too angelic for words. Good genes? You betcha. No pictures available of little Gunnar yet (born July '09- uh oh, close birthdays), as far as I know. But what is he doing, wearing this thing with his son around? Poor Ammon must be traumatized. The fact that his dad is holding him like a sacrificial offering doesn't help.
In a photoshoot with The Guardian, those Brits used their ever-present wittiness. Oh ho ho. Birds... on his shoulders... get it?? Because he wears... yeah, ok.

  Brandon wore a full-length black feather shoulder coat in the World We Live In video. As far as I know, the only other time he wore it was in the "Zombie Hands" Halloween bonus video/song for TK's fanclub, The Victims. 

Now to the big business. Brandon wore this jacket/blazer/sequined feather kitschy mess of a divine creation. Of course, it was designed by Mrs. Jones. I would say he wore it in about 10% of the Day & Age tour. This included the World We Live In video and TK's Coachella performance, which I believe at least one of these pictures is from:
And finally. The big kahuna. THE feather jacket. I kid you not, Brandon has worn it in 80% of the performances in the 2-year Day & Age tour. He is obsessed with it. It is really kind of scary. Homeboy is crazy, I've never denied it.

Human music video:
Camping. you know, the usual. (Spin photoshoot).
Bran quote from a Q magazine interview (read it- he cries), to show you how damn serious he is about his feathers:
"The feather epaulettes were my most fabulous style statement. When I get into the jacket I feel good and very triumphant. It's the old cliche of putting the mask on. I don't know if I could get up in front of 70,000 people at festivals without my feathers on."
Smirking on Jonathan Ross. Notice the plumage fuzz from too much wear. I don't think i can overstress the fact that he has worn this jacket at least a million times. Literally. Now I know I seem to have an agenda. And I'm not going to try to say that I don't. I place Brandon on a pedestal where only other exclusively amazing things such as Middlesex, Marcus Flutie, my mom's strawberry jam crumb cake, and the first day of break reside... but just because of that, it doesn't mean I'm completely 100% biased in this account. To prove this point I give you:

Meryl Streep and her feather-epaulette-laden backup singers in the movie version of Mamma Mia, which I openly admit came out before Brandon ever showed signs of going bird crazy. As far as we know, Mrs. Jones might have copied this look when she made Brandon's jacket. I doubt it, but I'm saying it's not impossible. The brilliant idea of sticking feathers on your shoulders is not that novel.

Also, Patrick Wolf (who coincidentally hates BF's look- "I think Brandon Flowers looks like he’s just walked out of Primark and bought a Casio synthesizer.") wore a feathery jacket in a photoshoot slightly before Brandon. But the feathers form more of an uneven cape than epaulets. And he could have been dressed by a stylist with no personal choice. And can you tell I don't like him because he's trash-talked Bflo multiple times? Moving on. More tellingly, Brian Eno of Roxy Music, (a band Brandon has always said to be influenced by), wore a featheryjacket long before Brandon, in the 70's:
However, these do not disprove my point. I don't claim that Brandon invented shoulder feathers (nor mustaches, nor guyliner...). I'm just saying he borrowed on them from decades earlier for his own use when almost no one else in their right mind was doing so.

Then after a lot of backlash and screeches and taunts, something started changing. This happened every time. The so-called tastemakers slowly followed- sometimes subconsciously, at times deliberately, and at other times bashfully obscuring where they got the inspiration. People gawked when they first saw some of these unfamiliar looks on Bflo - I know I did. But as he wore them more and more, they got ingrained in our brains and many people adopted them for their own use, forgetting or not knowing where the return of the trend originated in the first place. It's not a huge problem, but credit is due where it's due!

Back to feathered shoulders. Brandon was up for a big surprise. His plan failed. He thought no one would put feathers on their shoulders after they saw him, and he would finally be left in peace to his own strange ways. He was plan ol' dead wrong.

Lily Allen popped up wearing an angelic white dress with feather shoulders.

Over half a year after Bflo started wearing nothing but feathers, Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes displayed wing-like fixtures in her video for the song Pearl's Dream (even Stereogum pointed out the BF similarity).

And again she wore plenty of shoulder (peacock) feathers while picking up her Mercury Prize.January '09, not long after Lady Gaga's first single "Let's Dance" hit #1 on the Billboard charts, she wore a black blazer with black feathers. At the airport, where else. And this was before she really went batsh*t with the outfits. You can say the similarity was a coincidence. However, Gaga has specifically stated before she wore this that she loved TK and was inspired by Brandon's style so...
Brandon does it better. Just saying. Very off-topic but she looked much healthier weight-wise back then, no?
The lovely Juliet Lewis, who is friends with The Killers (her band Juliet and the Licks or the New Romantiques, or whatever her band is called these days, opened a huge show for TK at Arena di Verona in Italy) wore plenty of feathers on her shoulders this past summer at music festivals and concerts (lots of floaty feather photos at that link). Yes she did wear them at the TK concert.
Britney Spears (or more likely her stylists) adorned her shoulder with hairy feathery things. MTV first pointed out the Bflo parallel.
You want more Gaga? I'll give you more Gaga. Style Bubble's Susie Bubble discovered that these are beetle wings, not feathers, but close enough. Most recently and prominently, dirty-looking "Tik Tok" sensation Ke$ha (God that fucking $ in the name... gag me with a spoon) wore a bunch of black feathers on her shoulders at a Z100 winter concert festival. She combined the look with invisible pants a la Gaga.
Imogen Heap (SO MUCH LOVE) also wore dark feathers while performing. I see the women are drawn to darker feathers than Brandon's pheasant ones. Go Fug Yourself disapproves, but I like. Biased? Me? Naaahhhhh.

Newest to the group is long-time Killers fan and Brandon-admirer (she said he was her celeb crush or something about a year ago. No comment.) MILEY CYRUS. Miss Disney pop princess herself got alll dressed up in feathers galore, yet most prominently on her shoulders of course, for her new video "Can't Be Tamed," which just premiered on E!'s website. Everyone on ONTD claimed she's copying Ke$ha but HELLO, we know the real originator! How easily they forget...

Finally, last but not least, the homewrecking bitch is back. I told you I did not trust her around Brandon, and now you see I was not (just) in the fits of a jealous rage. Sienna I-must-suck-the-soul-out-of-every-good-thing Miller was not just hugging Brandon in the infamous picture, she was latching her evil claws on and raping him of all his good taste and purity.

She failed, luckily, and all she escaped with was this creeptastic stalker jacket at the 2009 Elle Style Awards. It really takes a great deal of head-scratching to figure out where she got the inspiration from this jacket from. Hmmmmmm.

Go away, Sienna. Shoo!

Moving on, Kenley of Project Runway preferred a pop of color. Purple. I like. Even though this girl was a huge b*tch on the show, I always thought she looked impeccable. This might have been slightly before, or right around the time Brandon first wore his feathers. So, again, proof that he was not exactly first, but definitely a big push. I don't see Kenley wearing those damn things to every single public appearance.

I honestly have no idea wtf this is. According to the blog it's from, Clothesmonaut, this is actress Kathleen Robertson dressed in character as Azkadellia for the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series The Tin Man.

In addition to TV and musical performers, feathers made a huge splash in the fashion world almost immediately after Brandon first wore them. Remember how Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Target and every other store suddenly sold a million feathery earrings, headbands, necklaces, tops, etc etc about a year ago...? That happened a few months after Bflo.

Some instances were pretty extreme.

Brandon would not approve. His feathers were *gathered.*

Many feathers showed up on the runways in the past year after Bflo. And yes, often on the shoulders.Prominent fashion magazines were also susceptible to the feather invasion. Vogue this year:
And also from Vogue, a few months ago. The caption says: "Quirky interest around the shoulders is a major movement right now." Oh really, Mrs. Wintour? I wonder who exactly started that 'movement.' This example from British Vogue is not even debatable- it is virtually a carbon copy of Brandon's pheasant feather epaulets.

  Lily Cole wearing golden feathers.
Some interpretations of the look are admittedly, er, impractical... but definitely interesting. This girl would look so badass on a motorcycle, with the feather "wings" fluttering in the wind...
Pristine Smut (indie label) "feather shoulder decor." Found through here. Positively regal.
Moving to more mainstream commercial fashion use. I told you the shoulder feathers made a looong journey from Brandon Flower's crazy self. Side-note: keep in mind all of these examples are from this past year or so, as are pretty much all of the results Google provides in a feather shoulder search. Hint hint.

Bridal wear. This is absolutely stunning. She looks like a goddamned angel with the delicate white wings. I want this wedding dress.

Another commercial product, but not quite at the chain store level. Yet? Who knows. But one has to be pretty daring to wear feathers on his/her fucking shoulders. This lovely piece is Lou Lou Loves You, Lavinia collection... some indie British brand apparently. £90 so no joke.

Beyond the considerably privileged and exclusive examples thus provided of feather shoulder appearances,

replicas of Brandon's feather blazer have popped up in guys' pictures all over the web. Why? Halloween costumes, of course! The past two Halloweens have been prime times to either mock or revel in Bflo's Day & Age era stage uniform.

Those who take it seriously usually look pretty serious business. This kid had his fashion designer friend create the costume for him:This guy made it himself. You know what, now that I think about it I don't even know if he did it for Halloween. Maybe it was just for kicks. As you do. Hey, if I was a guy I would totally replicate each of Brandon's outfits. It's not like I don't copy a bit here and there anyway. Ok I just checked and he wrote that it was a masquerade. Well same difference. Then the mockery. Even Ray Suen, The Killers' traveling traveling backup multi-instrumentalist ("the new Ted") decided to dress as Bflo for this past Halloween. He posted pics on his twitter to fans' amusement. You can tell he's not serious business because of his expressions. See.
For this one he wrote that he must have misplaced one of the feathers, muaha.

Finally, we reach the last step in the journey of Bflo's feather shoulders- normal everyday people. Well, not exactly, These are more of the fashion-forward types that like to experiment and post the resulting pictures online. You're not going to see my mom with feathers on her shoulders any time soon, let's put it that way.

Those who do take fashion risks have been eager to try Bflo's look. This girl made two different, equally awesome epaulets:This girl posted a Bflo feather look on Lookbook. The feathers are similar but everything else is way more casual and girly. Very versatile, these shoulder feathers are. (I really need a new word for 'shoulder.' And 'feather' because 'plumage' is not enough. I have seriously used those words a million times in this post. Sorry if you have a headache!)
yesss! A guy, not dressed in a costume! And looking damn amazing if I may say so myself.

Finally, another stylish girl on Lookbook, totally owning the feather shoulder look and making it her own. She called the outfit "Flowers are forever." Flowers. Yeah.

So that brings us to the end. Why do I always feel exhausted when I finish one of these research-intensive posts? Damn. Well hopefully it helps are amuses or [infuriates a hipster] or teaches something new. Feel free to post other feather shoulder sightings. And remember, wear that shoulder plumage with pride.

What in damnation will Brandon Flowers wear when the next album comes out? Fuck all if I know. Goddamn, the guy is crazy, don't you get it by now? But I sure am excited to find out. It will be over a year until then, unfortunately. TK are taking a long break. Maybe I'll make more of these posts to pass that time. Stay tuned.

P.S. If you think I'm the only crazy bitch admiring Bflo's style, well you're wrong. Sort of. There are some more! Spin wrote a really nice blog on this urgently important issue. The Fashion Spot also has something up. It basically a replica of my own blog post a while ago (someone hasnt learned about plagiarism!), I mean down to the minute details, no credits... but I'm letting it roll off my shoulders (FEATHERS) because it's not like I never copy here and there, or don't give credit. Plus any advancement of Brandon's style in the public is good enough for me. But B*tch, couldn't at least have given a link? Oh okay, fine fine. Anyway it doesn't come aaanywhere near the diabolical copycatness of this girl's post... which is exactly the same as a post I wrote before (about Brandon's ubiquitous purple tiger hoodie), just with different words. Wow. Sorry, had to vent a bit. Doesn't bother me too much though. Imitation is flattery...?

Love you guys. If you have any requests for a post like this, feel free to leave it in the comments.