Nonetheless, feathers are far from a fly-by-night trend. Right now I'm coveting a pair of dangling, orange-colored feather earrings. To wear with what, I don't know. But I can't resist mixing the bold colors with something neutral - a taupe maxi-dress maybe?
"Feathers are crazy. It's insane," said Kevin Gatto of Verde Salon, which has been offering the extensions in Collingswood since the end of February. Gatto and his staff seem to be sewing between five and 10 rooster-feather extensions a day. "In the last 10 minutes, we've gotten five phone calls for them. They are just a fun way to spruce up your hair."
Locally, feathers are much more of an accessory than a clothing item - although Ann Gitter of Knit Wit says she ordered a skirt, pants, and top with a charcoal-gray feather print by A.L.C.
Lisa Hayes, assistant professor of fashion at Drexel University, points to several fashion developments that are driving the feather trend: As part of the industry's return to made-in-America apparel, designers are turning to American Indian embellishments including feathers, tassels, and suede.
At the same time, Hayes said, high fashion has been paying homage to the late British designer Alexander McQueen, the subject of a macabre yet moving exhibition called "Savage Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"Savage Beauty" opens with a one-shouldered, red ostrich-feather dress and continues with elaborate evening gowns that feature glued, tacked, and shredded feathers. There is no doubt that feathers were a large part of McQueen's fashion inspiration - and other designers took note.
"Designers really looked at [McQueen] and followed him," Hayes said. "In Europe they are very popular. French Glamour has done a feature on feathers, and we are seeing them in collections including Donna Karan and Christopher Bailey in Burberry."
The return of the '60s hippie look, with its flowing frocks, demands the wispy extras, too.
But feathers also give accessories, especially hats and handbags, a vintage touch and an aura of luxury. Dating to the 11th century, the use of feathers in fashion signified high-society dignitaries.
Not only has this created a demand for pheasant and peacock feathers, but fishing stores are reporting an uptick in sales of hackles - long, skinny rooster feathers used to make flies. Fishing line is also in demand in fashion circles.
At the same time - note the irony - there's an increased interest in using metals in jewelry, too. (Think spears and bullets, those hunting materials.) There has been some talk in conservationist circles that the feather trend harms birds, but there are restrictions within the fashion industry placed on the kind of birds targeted for their feathers.
None of this seems to have slowed interest as more designers incorporate feathers, more salons sew them into hair, and more consumers buy the accessories.
The trend is definitely working for Sultana Aschim, a local single mother and jewelry designer who has built a name for herself at 18 boutiques in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, including Old City's Smak Parlour, Scarlet Fiorella, and Nestology, a pop-up store in the King of Prussia mall.
Chances are if you've seen a feathered piece around town, it's been made in Aschim's Medford home. What makes her pieces interesting aren't just the bold colors and the peacock feathers - used on her best-selling pieces. It's that she incorporates into the design bullet casings that she buys from indoor shooting ranges.
Is she a hunter? No. In fact, she once was able to shoot off only a few rounds before the force of the gun unnerved her. But it's hard to resist the simple beauty of an exotic feather and a shiny piece of metal.
"I use a lot of found objects in my work," said Aschim, whose pieces cost between $20 and $40. "And to me it's about natural elements and a burst of color."
Well put. Those orange-feathered earrings are as good as mine.
Hair extensions are incorporating feathers, too. See a video on the latest trend at philly.com/feathers.
Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ewellingtonPHL.