By Hannah Betts
A new generation of high-profile women incuding the Miiddleton sisters, Olivia Palermo and Rita Ora are succumbing to fur's charms.
At an awards ceremony last week, Billie Piper turned heads in a lavish fur jacket. “Was she, or wasn’t she?” a watching public demanded. “Real or faux?”
And, yet, the argument seemed less red in tooth and claw than it would have been 10, and certainly 20 years ago, when it was a prerequisite for supermodels to declare that they would rather go naked than sport pelts, and I was once spat on while clad in what was very obviously teddy bear.
To be sure, a vociferous minority continues to be alarmed regarding standards. Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a Christmas campaign on the horrors of Chinese angora, for which rabbits appear to be grotesquely stretched, have their hair yanked out while alive, left for their hair to re-grow and then to have it plucked again. It is also claiming the scalp of Harvey Nichols’s new fashion director, Paula Reed, who resigned last month amid a social networking storm against her decision to overturn the store’s decade-long fur boycott. And yet, in the main, where skin once provoked shudders, now most merely shrug.
Winter 2013 runways were plush with pelt. More than 400 designers are using fur across London, Paris, New York and Milan fashion weeks. Joseph Altuzarra, the American designer, memorably sent a model down his catwalk in a vast, black-and-white intarsia fox, prompting Elle’s Anne Slowey to tweet “Cruella de Vil eat your heart out”. Moreover, new techniques mean skin is increasingly being used in spring/summer collections in addition to the traditional winter months.
Where once fur was confined to a few picketed outlets, so now it can be found from haute to high street, from a £90,000 Prada coat to £69.99 Zara “lapin”. Fur is no longer a controversial anachronism, but a flourishing global enterprise. “This is almost the golden age in fur,” Charles Ross of Saga Furs has remarked. “Our skin prices are going up 20 to 30 per cent every year.” The world trade is now worth $15.6 billion (£9.6 billion), with pelts reaching record prices at auction.
And the demand is not merely issuing from Asia, where sales have tripled in under a decade. More....