This Christmas, while eating with my parents on Christmas Eve, the conversation turned to fur. I asked my mother about a little fur jacket she used to dress me in as a toddler. It turned out it was still in my wardrobe, in my childhood bedroom that hasn’t change since I left home in 1996 (aside from the removal of some suspect posters.) So I went to get the aforementioned mini-fur. It still fitted, all be it in cape form and my Mum then reminded me of her adult version. It was found, put on and crudely modelled by me. It was the first time I have worn a real fur, or at least remember wearing a real fur (the mini-version was worn in my memory-less time of infancy.) It was heavy and incredibly warm. In one “try on” the functionality of fur was immediately apparent to me; I could see exactly why so many Parisians donned their furs during the -10C temperatures we experienced there in December. My Mum said I should keep it, all at the party agreed. I however could not. It was coney fur and the amount of pelts (i.e. rabbit skins) that must have gone into the floor-length piece could have numbered 25 plus. To my inexperienced touch, it felt like one of my beautiful cats. It shed little hairs, like one of my cats. It had an animal smell, like one of my cats. That for me was enough reason not to keep it.
My Aunt then brought up a point that I have read about but have never experienced directly. This was a “vintage” fur. These animals were already dead, they would never live again, this coat would otherwise just remain in the wardrobe. I hear so many people say they will only wear vintage fur, for the very reasons my Aunt cited. There the argument falls down for me. In fashion, we are often driven by a covetous desire to replicate someone else’s style, or at least part of it. If that is fur, we will seek and buy fur. If designers see a trend for fur, be it vintage i.e. dead for a long time, they will be tempted to use fur in their collections i.e. dead for slightly less time! Fur for functionality, I can comprehend. If I lived in sub-zero Siberian temperatures, a fur would have a very practical purpose but here in the U.K., I don’t feel temperatures merit it. To be honest, all the people I know that own a fur wouldn’t dream of wearing it in the U.K. snow, for fear of damage. Fur for fashion, is not my thing at all, be it vintage or otherwise, it’s still a dead animal.
The Sartorialist highlights in his photographs above, fur for style only. This I don’t comprehend. I can understand the aesthetic pleasure these looks bring to the wearer but I personally could never put a whole fox around my neck, full stop.* There’s one particular fur practice that completely abhors me; I’ve highlighted it in a previous post…but the vintage/new fur debate still confounds me slightly. As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t do fur but I’m also aware I’m being a complete hypocrite as I do wear leather shoes (my dead animal reasoning fails here.)
I am interested to know where you stand on this. Fake fur has been everywhere this winter, do you wear it? Have you got a “vintage” fur? Would you buy new fur if your favourite designer produced it? The one question I ask myself, is what’s the future of fur? You never see futuristic films with fur. There’s always a new, skintight jumpsuit that regulates temperature. What will happen to all the “vintage” furs that go unworn, left to gather dust in the wardrobe like my Mum’s? Do you disagree and think I should have liberated it? I suppose we’ll just have wait and see…
* Thank you to the Sartorialist for the images. My post is not a criticism of his gorgeous photography, just a comment on my personal style.
I must also direct you to this very insightful (as always) article by Colin McDowell about the use of fur in fashion. The sales figures he quotes are astounding!