Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Fur Will Fly

The Queen, Kate Moss, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Shirley Bassey do. Michelle Obama, Stella McCartney, Carla Bruni and Christina Ricci do not. We're talking celebs wearing fur in public.

Naturally, it's a perennial preoccupation with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) but rather a lost battle among many high-profile fashion followers who think the glamour of fur outweighs all the criticism it receives. And, largely by default, we have all played a part in allowing its insidious return. Has any fashion magazine ever suggested to a growing list of top designers who use it that fur is perhaps something that fashion can do without, no matter how beautifully designed it might be? Despite the glory years of the anti-fur campaigners in the eighties and nineties, when emotive ads shot by David Bailey and hysterical denunciations by supermodels like Naomi Campbell of fur wearing seemed to suggest that fur was as dead
a fashion as egret feathers, the fact is it is once again accepted almost without comment not only on the runway but also on the backs of the fashionable, even it does keep a low profile on the shop floor.

Over the last ten years fur crept back in the form of rabbit trims, followed by coats of often unidentified pelts, until we reached the point where Wags out for a night on the razzle or Kate Moss boarding a private jet swathed in the real thing cause not even a small sigh of disapproval from the readers of Hello or OK. Anna Wintour used her power as editor-in-chief of US Vogue to bring fur back on its editorial pages and the models and photographers who seemed so reformed slowly dropped off the edge of the moral high ground and began to reappear on runways (some of the most powerful designers in Milan and Paris had not renounced fur at all, although for some years they did not show it on the catwalk) and then in advertisements, buoyed up by the crisp rallying call of the E-in-C of US Vogue that, as long as fur is a part of fashion, the magazine should cover it … which gave the ditherers the perfect cop-out: "It's
not my fault, stupid. It's fashion, innit?"

PETA hopes to change all this with a list of the Worst Dressed Celebrities in the world - based on how often they are seen in public wearing fur - followed by an on-line poll in February which will choose a 'winner'. Who do you think? Shirley Bassey? Liz Hurley? Keira Knightly? Jennifer Lopez? All guilty. Or could it be an all
Brit final between the Queen and everybody's favourite, Kate Moss? Both super guilty. Whoever it is, a business with worldwide sales in 2007 of over $16bn which contributed over $21bn to the global economy in 2008 is going to need a very big shift in public opinion before it starts to tremble. And we haven't even begun to think about fashion's obsession with the precious skins of reptiles.


  1. People have a loooooong way to go before they will change their attitude about fur.
    In the US my best friend cannot very easily marry her long-time girlfriend, nor is it a simple matter for them to have a child. And your previous post addressed the blind eye turned to the conditions under which much of today's clothing is produced. As long as human rights are kept at such a low priority, any concern for animals' is, I am sure, quite far down on the list.

  2. Amazing post Colin. I just wrote about my own fur dilemmas and how my Mum's "vintage" furs will remain in the wardrobe, despite her desire to palm them off on me. http://www.randomfashioncoolness.com/blog/2010/01/02/fur-in-the-new-decade/
    The sales figures you quote are astounding! I too do not see there be any change in this industry for some time to come.