Model Ruth Best
Photography Sara Wilson
Knitted Shorts by Rachael Hewson
All other clothes by Sara Wilson
It seems fur has made a stable comeback with the help of the Autumn/ Winter 2010 shows, and it’s hardly surprising when you think of fashion royalty such as Anna Wintour being an avid fan. Since ‘The September Issue’, released in 2009, the Goddess of Vogue has been covered more and more in the press, along with her trademark look; fur.
Recent A/W10 shows have seen fur saunter down the catwalk with confidence. Donna Karan made a statement with Lynx and leopard printed. Rabbit can be spotted a Phillip Lim. Even Topshop Unique had an injection of deluxe mink. Resembling a boy who’s just been told ‘nice glasses’ from the local cheerleader, fashion has gained that confidence back to peer out onto our catwalks. However like the proverbial bogwash, a Peta backlash is expected.
Every so often the political fur battle rears its ugly head and in true Mystic Meg style I can feel it coming. Fur has been shrouded in controversy for a long time, especially since the iconic anti-fur campaigns of the 1980’s, who can forget Naomi and Eva wanting to go naked? However I am slightly bored of hearing the same moral question. Instead, I want to know whether it’s in our human nature to wear fur – otherwise why would we bother with the hassle?
In the beginning it was logical to wear fur for protection against the elements. Now we have our trusted heating systems and can travel from London to Paris without even needing a coat. Fur is worn today as a luxury rather than necessity, which is proved by the hefty price tag that comes with it. Initially that first cave man would have protected himself with fur for survival, whereas today you would just need to give British Gas a call. So, can ‘survival of the fittest’ still be found in the fur wearer?
A person in a fur coat can symbolise many things; the bourgeoisie woman, the pimp, the dominatrix. All of these characters stereotypically represent a person with power, whether it is sexual, mental or physical. One look at P Diddy draped in dog fur tells you all about his ‘dollar and hoes’. The power that comes with the fur coat is paralleled with power the wearer shows over the animal. This quest for power that all these stereotypes possess is a suggestion of survival instincts.
Just walking down Portobello road you can see by all the vintage coats that fur is a worthy buy for its durability alone. The high quality nature of fur deems it irreplaceable, unlike man made fibres which can be repeated forever. The survivor in us would want a coat that lasts, surely. And isn’t it in our nature to want to be unique? Some psychologists believe it is instinctive to crave acknowledgement from subordinates.
The social class system in England can be associated with human nature in the sense of power; the higher up the hierarchy the more power you have, and the more power you have the more likely you are to survive. It cannot be a coincidence then that the higher class were always seen in the best furs, ensuring fur became a signifier for power and wealth. This is not unlike the animal kingdom, where the power is found within the predator.
In conclusion this article is not about whether its ethical or moral to wear fur or not, but whether there are some instinctive qualities attached to wearing it. The history of wearing fur plays a huge role in why it is still worn today. However, leading psychologists studies into human/ animal nature can be linked to some of fur’s attributes. Therefore Anna Wintour is just answering her inner primate’s instinct to survive….or she just loves the feel of a fur coat.