Sunday, 16 May 2010

Valshams: Feathered Mantle Prototype

In Skaldskaparmal, the Goddess Freyja is said to possess a valshams or "hawk-coat".  Loki borrows from her her fjaðrhams, "feather-form", so that he may find Thor's lost hammer in Thrymskvida. Generally it's accepted that this refers to a feathered coat or cloak that allows her to take on the form of a bird of prey (a hawk or falcon, usually), though some contend its simply the skin of a bird of prey. It is said to go whoosh (or that's how my professor used to put it) as one uses it to fly through the air.

Despite beginning with that, I'm not exactly convinced I look anything like the goddess Freyja (or Loki for that matter) and whilst I would very much like to say that the inspiration came from the mythical feather form of  the Norse goddess Freyja, it didn't. Rather more mundanely, the Designer was inspired by seeing feather trim for sale in various haberdasheries in Sham Shui Po. 

I made subsequent inquires and once it was possible, our good Tailor started work on the prototype. It was meant to be a cloak in conception, but the supplier only had enough feather trim for a mantle and we agree that it would more versatile and cheaper as that. 

That was some months ago and the schedule got held up and only very recently had I gotten the mantle back from the Tailor. For that reason, these photos and the outfit itself was put together rather hurriedly this morning when it turned out I may get a chance to do some with Loretta. 

The outfit just about works. The Designer thinks that the dress looks vaguely Regency and that the mantle makes him think of a particularly odd fichu that a particularly eccentric lady could be wearing. 

I have to stress, of course, that this doesn't rival the beautiful feather cloaks of the early Hawaiians or the Kahu Huruhuru of the Maori. In construction, this one is really very simple: amounting to stitching row upon row of feather trim onto a very short cape which is fastened with a hook and eye. However, I do think it's very effective.

Loretta was overall rather displeased with my inability to keep a straight face. In my defense, she was telling me to "Look into the distance... no, I mean the tennis courts" and that we needed an Elder Carrie with a hairdryer to use as a makeshift wind machine like they have on real photoshoots.

Depending on feedback, Feathered Mantles may be going into production in the coming months and will cost somewhere around £60. Should you desire to commission one in other colours (like black, dark green or dark red), it should cost a similar amount. Longer cloaks are also possible, just email in and ask.

Update: The Feathered Mantle is now available at Character Kit for £60.


  1. dude i loveee this
    -karina :)

  2. That's absolutely beautiful. Years and years ago I bought £200 of white clothing leather and £50 of black feathers, some short and some long. That's a lot of money when you're on the dole! I had it in mind to create a shaped cloak from the leather and stitch the feathers on to the shoulders to create a feathered mantle much like the one you got here.

    The materials are of course in my loft unusued. Such is life. If I ever get it finished I hope it looks even half as beautiful as that mantle.

    Matt P


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