Sunday, 6 February 2011

On Wearing Fur

The anti-fur movement seems to have translated into a general sentiment, among Australians, that wearing fur is just bad taste.  This coincides neatly with the national predilection for despising and/or pitying the overly rich (along with a tinge of envy that few are game to admit).  If you wear fur in Sydney, no-one will throw paint at you but they will certainly look at you strangely.
And indeed, why not? Given the average temperature, the only possible reason for wearing fur in Sydney is terminal pretentiousness.
It’s a different story in Europe. On days when the mercury doesn’t peek above minus one despite flooding sunshine, when the cold seems to radiate up through the soles of your shoes – then, practicality starts to win out over pretentiousness. Add to this the unashamed decadence of the Old World and voila! – the chic, the old, and the rich parisiennes are all getting about in fur.
Despite my acceptance of my own essentially decadent, hedonistic and corrupt nature, even I struggle with feelings of ambivalence in the face of quite so much sleek, dead animal.  First of all there are the old ladies and the overly-rich in their 100% fur coats. Talk about overkill – this is Paris, not Moscow. They all look like well-fed grizzly bears stalking along Boulevard St Germain. Then, there is the similarly over-stuffed “hundred tails” look, where the coat is – or is made to look like it has been – assembled from the tails of dozens of unsuspecting small animals. I’m no vegetarian, but this obvious connection between coat and creature can be a little disconcerting.
Having said all that, there are definitely some fabulous fur-trimmed coats about this season. In the (relatively) mild Parisian climate, a fur trim is all you need and will keep you fabulously warm – just a bit around your collar and across the chest does wonders. Fur is practical, but it is also just the most wonderful material – nothing can imitate the lustre and the tactile luxury of fur. Having said that, let’s not kill a dozen stoats for no good reason – wear only as much fur as appropriate in the climatic conditions, not as much as you can fit. And let’s not look like we are going about wearing a collection of small animals on our backs. Best of all – go vintage. Letting wonderfully crafted garments moulder, disused, won’t save a single furry creature but it will surely be a terrible waste.
And so, as the mercury hits 41 degrees Celsius back home in Sydney, think of us in Paris, being fabulous, warm and vintage in fur.

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