Winged Creatures As Fashion Accents

By Sharon Naylor

August 5, 2013 6 min read

This fall and winter, even in snowy weather, expect to see winged creatures everywhere. Butterflies, dragonflies, bees and other winged insects are a top trend in this season's fashions as a hot accessory motif that will be flying off the shelves and dressing up stylish ladies' looks.

The winged creature trend launched last year as part of the Alexander McQueen Spring 2013 runway show, with his golden bee and honeycomb designs on belts and as collar pins. Lavin and Roberto Cavalli followed suit with their Fall 2013 shows, and that's all it took to turn winged creatures into the hot symbol type of the season.

Here's what makes these winged creatures hot:

--Butterflies: As a symbol, butterflies represent change, transformation, beauty, grace and exploration. This traditionally feminine symbol is used this fall in pure gold, the season's hot shade of rose gold and in a variety of pastels and brights.

--Dragonflies: As a symbol, dragonflies represent prosperity, good luck, strength, peace, harmony and purity. As this season's top winged creature, working in tandem with punk and steampunk fashion designs, an all-metal incarnation provides exquisite detail in the wings and body of this insect, visually interesting and often used as more sizeable pieces.

--Beetles: These round, winged creatures symbolize time, strength, structure, creativity, adaptation, transformation and community. It's the strength aspect of this insect that gives any fashion piece extra meaning. Certain types of beetles are said to be able to lift six hundred times their weight, so as a fashion accent piece, the beetle is often used as a nod to a women's strength in any challenge.

--Cicada: While those living in regions that were recently inundated by swarms of real-life cicadas emerging from the ground (as they do once every 17 years) are likely happy to see them gone now, fashionistas embrace the cicada as a symbol of change, renewal, metamorphosis, surprise, patience, timing and -- surprisingly to many -- sensuality and libido. In fashion, cicadas may be shown as full-bodied insect shapes, or it may simply be their intricate wing shapes used as, say, necklaces, pendants and pins.

--Bees: While it may have been the contrast of yellow and black that launched bees onto the fashion scene last spring, bees are often shown in this season's collections in metallic designs, namely in this season's hot shade of gold. As a symbol, bees symbolize productivity and work well done, community with a common goal and the production of something sweet.

--Bats: While not an insect, it is a winged creature, and it's more stylish in fall fashion than the expected Halloween jewelry accessory. Bats may be shown with open wings or in folded-wing designs, in black or in metallics, meant to symbolize dreams, intuition, communication, rebirth and being aware of surroundings.

--Dragons: While many attribute the popularity of dragons to "Game of Thrones," these winged creatures have long been a staple of fantasy for many years. In literature, dragons are often portrayed as fearsome creatures, and in modern culture, dragons have also been illustrated as heart-of-gold animals that save the day, delivering the hero to the redemption point. As a symbol in fashion, dragons may be fierce creatures in gleaming metallics, or they might be designed with more of a traditional Asian flair with friendly faces and round bellies or -- again -- as fierce warrior animals.

In fall and winter fashion, winged creatures are used in jewelry from single pieces as pendants to single or multiple winged creatures in earrings, as brooches with a wow factor in costume design, as belt buckles, purse clasps or handbag chain accents, as shoe jewelry and as hair clips or headband accents. As a motif in textiles, winged creatures may be the pattern for a silk scarf, or it may be the motif on the inside lining of a jacket, hat or handbag. And a winged creature may be a scarf clip.

What makes a winged creature hottest for fall and winter is the intricate detail, from filigreed butterfly shapes on a 14-karat gold ring to a larger, chunkier, ring that is far from the romantic, feminine flair of a butterfly. It's precisely this range of detail -- mirroring the variations of insects seen in nature -- that lets the fashionista accessorize with an eye for large versus small, metallic versus colored, pretty versus punk, formal versus playful.

"We see a lot of winged creature pins and brooches in thrift stores and secondhand shops, and especially at flea markets," says vintage jewelry expert Claire Karzan. "So check with your grandmother and great aunts to see if they have winged creature pieces in their jewelry boxes for your use."

Karzan also suggests Etsy as a source for inexpensive winged creature jewelry and fashion pieces, some made with eco-friendly methods using repurposed metals. Gift shops also offer large collections of low price point winged creature accessories to make your fall and winter looks stand out with high-fashion style.

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