Dec 15, 2010

It was 20 Degrees Out, the Fur was Necessary...

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?

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Kitschmoog said...

Oh ! Great style again , the choice of golden colors are awesome and stylish !
Nice over the knee socks combiantion with boots !
Great photos , so chic ! BRAVO for the model and photograph artist ! :))

illustratorclaire said...

So can I print this out on a big sign to carry whenever I wear my found-at-a-jumpble-sale fur for warmth?

I always feel so conspicuous, but it wasn't killed at my behest and it's really warmer than anything.

Ethics are tricky.

Nice colours you picked, by the way!

Previously Owned said...

Awesome pictures! Love love them! (and those earrings!) always so fashionable and cute. The color of the coat is amazing. Over here since it's so hot I never even factor the difference between real and fake fur. But I guess if it was freezing cold, I would probably pick fake. Just because it would be so weird hahaha to have something on from an animal. Then again, what the he'll do I know, I've never had one on. Looks really comfy though!

*thanks so much for the prompt reply about the word verification thing. Haha apparently this oh so NOT technological gadget sucks

Previously Owned said...

Hi lady,

I think this is an interesting topic, and even though I'm dog tired, I'm going to try and attempt to fashion a response! I think you really articulately bring up that in encouraging others to have humanity we have to remember that individuals have complicated and not easily collaspible reasons for their actions and that personal histories need to be considered if we want to behave humanely.

I have a lot of ambivalence about PETA although I recognize that animal rights needs a strong organization (I just wish one that was more thoughtful and less narrowly focused in their activism.)

I also think you look really beautiful in your outfit, and I'm always grateful for fashion blogs that make me think.

xx Jenny

Caroline Hagood said...

Yup, I've failed vegetarianism, but I hold out hope for the future. Beautiful photos.

Laetitia´s Comptoir said...

Lovely pics!

LopezJennyLopez said...

Amazing pics!
Looks like a magazine story!

Meg said...

I really wanted to look at the fur issue subjectively. It's a fantastic coat, an amazing outfit and a really well thought out argument.

I believe that we have the right to use animals, but responsibly. I have no problems wearing leather (okay, I have an addiction to wearing leather), but I also have an addiction to hamburgers. It only makes sense to use the whole animal if you take its life.

My problem with fur is that it isn't done. Well, very rarely is it done. Typically an animal killed for fur is killed for fur only. In very cold climates, it makes sense that the natives do this. They're surviving. Chances are, they're going to use the whole animal. Outside of that specific set of circumstances, though, I can't find a way to support it.

When I think about the concept of recycling fur, it makes a little bit more sense. However, the reason the fur industry persists is that the demand exists. When fur is worn as something fashionable and desirable, even if the wearer didn't purchase it new, or purchase it at all, they're still perpetuating the demand for it.

Now excuse me while I go put on a coat of my beloved Covergirl Mascara even though I know they test unnecessarily on animals...

(Seriously, great post - We all love the animals, we just love what they can give us a little bit more sometimes.)

Susu Paris Chic said...

Fur or not... I go fake! Your look is chic and just what we need this period to glam it up a bit!

Annushka said...

Your photos is so charming!!!)))

Jessie Rubin said...

awesome post!!
love the photos

melanie said...

I love this coat! I am sorry to say it, you look amazing! Where did you snag it?

Hansel Castro said...

PETA is off and wacky for soooo many reasons.
As for fur, (which I don't like/endorse/care for or can afford or could wear if I COULD afford it, being a relatively straight guy): it's only cruel within a certain context. If we eat an animal's meat, how is it cruel to take advantage of the by-products of that animal's death? It's a cultural thing. It wasn't cruel for a caveman to kill a bear and use its fur- it was what made it possible for you to exist. The cruelty of fur is entirely modern, where fur is unnecessary. It isn't there for use or protection but as a "f***k-you* signifier of wealth: (as in "I can kill anything I want because I can pay for it!")
That said, the people who throw red paint on fur coats are twice as bad: the animal is already dead, now you're also going to make it USELESS too? Assholes!

Hansel Castro said...

And I just realized some other commented said pretty much the same thing... Should have read that.

TASHA B said...

your jewellery is to die for!

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