fur, vintage. grey dress, AA. open knit sweater/knee high socks, Express. fedora, UO. cowboy boots, Nine West (thrifted). leg warmers, handmade by me. faux-gauge earrings, Tribal Style. turquoise/glass pendants, W'Erin Art X Erin Magoc. snake ring, Alchemy. turquoise bracelet, Designer Days Boutique.
Photography by Brian Herman
About a year and a half ago, I gave up on my two-yearlong attempt at vegetarianism. It wasn’t like I just put down the tofu one day and instantly picked up a mid-rare cheeseburger and draped a fur coat over my shoulders like some carnivorous princess. No, it was far more gradual than that. Not dramatic in a way like I labored over the decision, bringing a potential first bite of meat to my mouth, staring at it, glistening with grease, or sauce, surrounded by a bun or cloaked in gravy, however you’d like to picture a returning omnivore’s first bite in over a year, just to put it back down, and then bring it back up, and down and up and down until I finally put it in my mouth. It certainly wasn’t ritualistic in a way like I gathered all my PETA literature and burned it in an open fire pit and subsequently used the flame of depressing words describing the horrific slaughter of cute piggies to roast a hot dog. My decision to reaccept meat as a part of my diet came in degrees of drunken munchies, late night pepperoni pizza acceptance, and the constant presence of a very Italian cook with a penchant for TexMex, whose meat chili far surpassed his veg version. I gave in to flavor, texture, and developed a great appreciation for food.
Fur is a little more complex I suppose. It’s crueler than eating an animal, it’s vanity at the utmost. The issues get lost in the fickleness of fashion. In the 90’s there was a fashion industry push for anti-fur trends, spokes models against included the leggy and powerfully gorgeous Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson. Aside from Turlington, the rest of them gave into the glamour, the cruel trend, and are probably wearing fur right this minute. However, the models aren't always necessary, there is definitely no lack of celebrity support for PETA. They’ve got a lovely campaign of nearly naked celebrities from music, sports, and reality T.V., photos with a catchy slogan like “Ink not Mink,” slapped onto a photo of Chester Bennington and Dave Navarro. “I’d rather go Naked” on photos of women most people wouldn’t mind seeing naked. It’s a campaign of the cool and sexy.
The fur complex that fashion has stems from the fact that material is to a designer as paint is to a painter. Fur is like the oil paint of a designer’s collection. It takes days to dry, and when it dries, it does so in a way that just makes you want to touch it. It’s textural in the most dynamic of ways, adding dimensions that all other materials lack. It’s also referential to a time and place where Norwegians and indigenous Siberians wear fur for warmth. It's got anthropological underpinnings that echo a very caveman/cavewoman aesthetic, artistically preaching the sartorial origins of mankind. Fur is most certainly wrought with issues, and I find it hard to believe that Alexander McQueen was, or Nicolas Ghesquiere is totally ignorant of the images of cute seals and the PETA campaign of cool. High fashion designers aren't disregarding these issues they’re making art.
I’m not excusing them just because they are artists; I’m merely asking PETAers to look at it from the artists’ perspective. Personally, I will never buy Balenciaga fur, or any designer fur straight off the rack at Barney’s or some such store. I’ll never be able to afford it, and even if I can, I’m just not the type to indulge like that. I’ll even go as far as to say, I’ll never buy any fur, vintage or otherwise (and I never say never).
This coat was a gift from a distant friend who understood that I would appreciate it for its rock ‘n’ rollness. It was bought at an estate sale or something, was sold in a set of three for a hundred bucks. The friend just wanted some vintage fur to wear over her dress on her November wedding day. She didn’t go out and kill seals to wear it; she scrounged craigslist to recycle one that’s not being used. She saved the creature’s skin that would have otherwise been killed in vain so that the little old lady in possession of the coats could leave them hanging forlornly in her closet. I’ll just pose this question to the person who probably wants to throw paint on my coat…are you really against recycling?