Friday, January 14, 2011


With this icky story out of Minnesota as my point of departure, I offer some details about the ethics of owning fur coats. Coats made of - as opposed to just trimmed with - fur were a Victorian innovation, and British trappers came to North America in the 17th c. in search of beaver and bear that had disappeared from their own country. Today, PETA is of course opposed to killing animals for their fur or skin, regardless of whether their populations are sustainable. For those who are less rigorous, but still want to be politically correct even though "cruelty is back on the catwalk," an ethical choice is to have an existing fur coat restyled, which has also become more popular in today's tight economy. Budget is likely not a concern for clients of the so-called "Cruella de Vil of couture" who have paid thousands to own a leopard porkpie hat, a fur cape made from hides of the threatened Geoffroy's cat, and a 1950s jaguar coat, hat. and belt set, as well as garments made from tiger, ocelot, and cheetah fur. British fashionista Clair Watson is New York's top dealer in items made from endangered animals' fur. The pieces she deals in were all created decades ago, since the state's Department of Environmental Conservation allows sales of articles from threatened or extinct species as long as the animals were killed prior to the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. "Yesterday's couture is today's most coveted fashion treasure," says Watson. She brokered more than a dozen sales while she worked for Doyle auction house from 2003 to 2007. She continues to consult for Doyle and private collectors.

By the way, the film "Fur" about Diane Arbus, who was born into a family of furriers, was for me and many others a big disappointment.

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