Yesterday, for the third time in a couple of weeks, I saw a woman wearing fur at my local supermarket. Her coat looked vintage (don’t you just love the way ‘second-hand’ became ‘vintage’ when the middle-class decided it was OK to use stuff that has already been used by someone else), but the other two had been wearing coats that were obviously new. And I don’t think those women weren’t Italian or Eastern European either. The fact that this was in Hammersmith, not in Mayfair, is indicative that it is about to become more acceptable.
I have to confess that I myself have worn fur in the past. My parents, who worked in the rag trade, had friends who were furriers, and two or three times (before the late ’80s, when fur became a no-no, at least in the UK, and you risked having eggs thrown at you if you wore it in the street) I was taken to their workshops and told to select a coat or a jacket. We’re not talking mink here; just something cuddly – and affordable. There is nothing like real fur for warmth and softness; synthetic fur can be very nice (items from La Maison de la Fausse Fourrure and Jan Kuperus, for instance, are wonderful), but it doesn’t age well – actually it doesn’t age at all, whereas real fur (as long as moths are kept away from it) is indestructible and always looks beautiful.
Before she died, knowing I would never want to wear it, my mother gave away her fur (a black astrakhan coat) to one of her neighbours, who didn’t have such scruples, but, later, when sorting out her belongings, I found a woollen coat with a silver fox fur collar in her wardrobe. I took the coat to a charity shop, but kept the collar. I have it still; it is lovely; it sits along the top of my armchair and I stroke it from time to time. It is old, the poor fox is long dead and nothing can bring it back to life so I have no intention of getting rid of it. At least I didn’t hunt the animal myself, like a neighbour of mine – a member of the landed gentry – who has several such trophies hanging on his wall.
If it were possible to obtain skins without hurting the animals in any way, I would wear fur again, but since that can never be I deplore the return of the fashion for fur. It may be another sign that we are going back to uncaring times. Apparently, as a journalist wrote in The Independent a while ago, there is a fashion in ethics too.
Update 24/02/2010: Twiggy agrees with me. She has publicly condemned the use of real fur at London Fashion Week. She said designers should be ashamed of themselves.