Fashion & Household
The use of taxidermy in fashion and household wares highlights both the domestication of nature (taming and bringing it indoors) and the aestheticization of nature (accentuating its value as an aesthetic object). Although this chapter foregrounds these two aspects of our encounters with nature, the chapter touches upon themes already discussed. Hunting trophies, of course, were displayed within households. The Victorian fascination with nature history not only led the general public to attend museums in phenomenal numbers but also to display smaller scenes in their own homes. Birds under glass domes were educational and delightful objects. Ladies magazines even published instructions for creating the perfect piece of taxidermy to compliment the décor of any room. In addition, fashion taxidermy used nature to make aesthetic and social statements. Mink stoles and exotic birds on hats displayed the owner’s taste, refinement, and class while hummingbird heads as broaches reduced nature to its aesthetic value.
Kitschy pieces have long been loved by some for their bad taste, but more recently vintage pieces of taxidermy are being collected for their link to the traditional aesthetic of country homes. This section examines some of the wildest examples of taxidermy which are (surprisingly or not) the pieces we choose to adorn our homes and our clothing.