Today The Crown Estate and Oxford Properties unveiled their latest exhibition to arrive in the St James’s Market Pavilion – a permanent art space designed in 2016 by Studio Weave. The Paper Aviary takes inspiration from Charles II’s exotic birdcage, which housed his collection of tropical birds during the 1600’s in the heart of St James’s Park. It was this aviary that lent its name to London’s famous Birdcage Walk.Conceived by design and brand specialists dn&co this new installation in the St James’s Market Pavilion aims to capture the wonder evoked in 17th century London at the sight of bright green Sulawesi hanging parrots, red and yellow lories and lorikeets and huge marauding cassowaries in the heart of the city. Bringing the story of the aviary to life today the exhibition is a display of exotic paper birds created by dn&co in collaboration with Argentinian studio Guardabosques. The exhibition nods to the style and craft heritage of St James’s.

[Photo Tian Khee Siong]

Each handcrafted bird displays plumage and patterns inspired by the fashion houses and craftsmen of the area. Houndstooth, checks and polka dots are taken from the fabric patterns of brands such as John Smedley, Turnbull & Asser and Aquascutum animating each paper bird.

[Photo Tian Khee Siong]

Enriching the experience further the exhibition features a curated soundtrack of birdsong.Patrick Eley, Creative Director of dn&co commented “Imagine 17th century London – no internet, no television, no libraries. Then imagine walking through St James’s Park and coming across a cage full of exotic birds – like nothing you’ve never seen before. This exhibition is an homage to that sense of wonder and explores how today, when it comes to fashion, life imitates nature.”

The exhibition will be open to the public free of charge from Feb 15th – May 2017 at St James’s Market Pavilion.


Each handcrafted bird displays plumage and patterns inspired by the fashion houses and craftsmen of the area.

Once upon a time, the more colourful your military regalia, the better. Alas, with the rise of the long-distance rifle, the camouflage pattern was invented – and is still being finessed by the likes of Italian gunmakers Beretta. With variations for everything from desert wastes to choppy seas, camouflage has most recently been purloined by the
fashion industry; no longer as a way to disappear, but a chance to stand out from the masses.

Loosely defined as any pattern of crossing lines, the check family is a large one. There’s ever-pleasant gingham, who’s perfect for country café tablecloths, or tartan – who inspired such devotion and patriotism by its creators in the Scottish Highlands that it was banned by the subjugating English between 1746 and 1782. The check’s association with outdoor wear is long held, and has been picked out by the inventor of the trenchcoat, Aquascutum.

The story of the chevron is long and winding. Examples of this classic ‘V’ pattern have been found from as long ago as 1800 BC in Knossos – the labyrinthine city of the Minotaur – through to medieval shields and coats of arms. The word ‘chevron’ even comes from the Latin for a goat’s angular hind legs, while its cousin – the zigzag – was the German word for deep trenches that went back and forth along the front line. This beguiling chevron is from the latest season by John Smedley.

Perhaps the most famous diamond pattern, harlequin originally gets its name from a theatrical character. With a costume made from diamonds of spare fabric, Harlequin was the witty underdog and romantic hero in Europe’s earliest form of professional theatre known as Commedia dell’arte. But in the ’50s, the pattern made a distinct career change from stage to catwalk, where it has been variously reinvented, like this unique design by fashion brand Dunhill.

Named after its resemblance to a fish skeleton, this weave has distinct diagonals from where the direction of weaving periodically changes. The most famous example is the Shroud of Turin, though it’s been in use since ancient Egypt. A popular modern choice for smart shirtmakers, it’s been smartly chosen by Emmett of Jermyn Street.

Though often found perched on the garden walls of large country estates, peacocks originate from much warmer and more colourful climes in India, where they represent wealth, beauty, and having a dangerous pride. Enviously, the title of peacock is also attributed to our Jermyn Street dandies, whose flair for fashion might see them spending an evening in one of New & Lingwood’s sumptuous silk dressing gowns in the pattern.

[Photo Tian Khee Siong]

The Czech folk music craze that swept 1840s Europe and the Americas, Polka inspired a cult for all things
dotty – hats, suspenders, even pudding. But today, we just think of the pattern, which is thought to mimic the
Polka’s quick-footed, half-step dance. Our particular polka dots are inspired by the classic COMME des
GARÇONS print from Dover Street Market.

Unlike its tartan brethren, the ‘Glen Urquhart Plaid’ is a relatively recent invention, devised by the Countess of Seafield in the 1880s for her Highland gamekeepers. Its distinctive grey and black checks were famously popularised by the Duke of Windsor when he was the Prince of Wales in the ’20s, but it may also be familiar as the suit of choice for fictional character Pee-wee Herman. A characterful classic from Jermyn Street shirtmaker Emma Willis.

A Missouri state legislator once tried to ban anyone over the age of eight from wearing seersucker, deeming it “ridiculous.” British imperialists in India would beg to differ, who preferred this puckered fabric in warmer
climates. Indeed, the name originates from the Hindi śīrśakkar, which means ‘milk and sugar’, a reference to its smooth and grainy textures. Previously only seen as workwear in 1920s America, fashion-forward undergrads
brilliantly began wearing the stuff in a defiant act of reverse snobbery.

The grid is the pattern of the orderly. It has helped us rationalise and express complex ideas, and has been used across everything from classroom graph paper and engineering documents (where its guiding lines are cheatingly hidden by being printed on the reverse) to Modernist Russian art and garment making. This season, it’s also the choice of Jigsaw from their St James’s Emporium.

[Photo Tian Khee Siong]

From school uniforms to French revolutionary banners, candy canes to clowns – stripes didn’t start out so popular, being used instead to designate those ‘barred’ from society. Prison uniforms are a hangover from the days when striped clothing was even forbidden by the Pope. Praise be then to places like Sunspel who strike forth for the cause of stripes.

Why the Zebra has its distinctive markings is one of nature’s mysteries. If you think it’s for hiding, then you’re hiding to nothing. Or if you believe that fable about a fight with a baboon, you must just be aping around. Their
loosely-brushed stripes – unique to each Zebra – are also said to emphasise their fine physique, a trick perhaps Tiger of Sweden has picked up on with their latest collection at London Fashion Week.

Highlander shepherds favoured this geometric textile for its ability to hide the mud that inevitably splashed and sullied their outerwear. But when Edward, Duke of Windsor began tailoring in this pattern – houndstooth turned out to be quite the social climber: it’s long been a favourite of royal tailors Turnbull & Asser. It was also firmly fastened into MidCentury fashion lore when it was popularised by Christian Dior.