Barbra Streisand wore this beautiful feather headpiece By Leon Bennett in the Sept 1964 edition of Show Magazine. This was Barbra’s first fashion shoot, shot by William Claxton (1927-2008). Claxton later noted that his wife Peggy Moffit who was a professional model coached Barbra through the shoot, suggesting and inspiring poses for Barbra to recreate. It is here that we see tiny glimpses of the glamorous, larger than life Streisand persona that fans would come to know and love. In the magazine feature titled “Streisand: Gernreich: The This Minute Kids”, this look is described as “Streisand in full plumage.”
Leon Bennett, who worked for many years as a hat designer, dresser and a “Man Friday” for actors such as Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis and Sherman Hemsley. A longtime member of Motion Pictures Costumers Local 705, Bennett began his career as an actor. He eventually became the official hat maker for actress Hattie McDaniel in 1941. Each time she appeared in public she wore one of his hats- and the more outlandish it was the better she liked it. Leone went on to collaborate with many top designers including Rudi Gernreich, who’s clothes Barbra wore in this photo shoot. Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985) was a controversial Austrian-American fashion designer, dancer and gay rights activist, created clothes that celebrated the natural shape and movement of the body, including his most famous designs, the topless “monokini” swimsuit and the thong swimsuit.
This headpiece is crafted from black iridescent coque tail feathers. These give off a beautiful greenish-black sheen in the light. Short features were molded around the base of the cap with long ones dramatically jutting from the top and back of the piece, creating a feathered faux hair illusion. This look was chosen as the magazine cover shot for good reason. It accented Barbra’s stunning features, magnetic star quality and brazen that she possessed early in her career.