Birds are big business—shopping site Etsy alone offers more than 400,000 avian-adorned products, from rugs to iPhone cases. The flying creatures also influence haute couture. Alexander McQueen loved birds and worked sartorial magic with feathers, stunning fans on and off the runway. And forget wingtips—avian-inspired footwear is reaching loftier heights. Kobi Levi’s heels embody mallards, flamingos, and more. Meanwhile, fashion designer Marieka Ratsma and architect Kotstika Spaho’s exquisite “biomimicry shoe” (above) draws from a bird skull’s structure and aesthetic. Talk about a flight of fancy.
This story originally ran as“Runway Takeoff” in the March-April 2013 issue of Audubon magazine.