Monday, October 1, 2012

Hot fuzz

céline SS2013 via
During the 2012 London Olympics Nike managed to ambush adidas, the event’s official sports apparel marketing partner, with an 18-strong collection of neon yellow trainers that looked to be on every second athlete in the track and field events. With shoes classified as equipment, athletes were free to choose their brand. The Spring/Summer 2013 show season is of course a totally different animal to the Summer Olympics. And yet, based on some early reactions, it seems that another neon yellow shoe may be hijacking more than its fair share of coverage here: Céline’s mink pump.

céline SS2013 via

It was not the only fur shoe in the collection, which was presented yesterday in Paris. Céline creative director Phoebe Philo worked back the insouciant mannish swagger of her luxury sportswear collection with a range of mink footwear, including other pumps in lavender and one pair in bright red with a chunkier, nude mink-covered heel and some navy blue and black mink-covered flat slides that were quickly dubbed “Furkenstocks”.

But the neon pumps attracted the most attention, notably the yellow version, drawing comparisons to Swiss Surrealist Méret Oppenheim’s 1936 sculpture Breakfast in Fur and raves from senior fashion figures such as The New York Times’s Eric Wilson (“Now that’s how you make a shoe”); ELLE's creative director Joe Zee (“It’s a bit of a major shoe moment at this show”) and Love magazine (“Giant fuzzy yellow Muppet fur court-shoes in Lurpak yellow at Céline”).

In reality, it wasn’t Philo’s first rodeo with fur footwear. 

Céline's Fall/Winter 2010/2011 collection included some sandals and platform mules with rabbit fur lining. Neon fur, moreover, has emerged as a minor Fall/Winter 2012/2013 trend, much to the chagrin, no doubt, of the anti-fur lobby. Céline’s Fall/Winter 2012/2013 collection includes a spectacular neon pink mink overcoat and intarsia sweater.

Nor was it the first time that a designer has sent fur-covered shoes down the runway in recent memory. In fact, a number of designers used fur in footwear during the Fall 2011/2012 season, including New York designer Jeremy Scott, who sent out several pairs of Mary Janes completely covered in neon fur. Fake fur, it seems: 

jeremy scott FW2011/2012 via style bistro

It has been a number of years since the anti-fur lobby successfully infiltrated a major brand's runway or tofu-pie'd a leading fashion figure such as Anna Wintour -  with Vogue Paris brazenly flipping the bird to the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals with one editorial in 2008. However, nothing screams frivolous luxury more than a mink pump in a summer collection and predictably perhaps, Céline's SS13 fur footwear has attracted some criticism. 

Melbourne-based fashion writer Linlee Allen, who works for a number of international publications, noted on Twitter:
While the following Tweet of New York publicist Kelly Cutrone has been “retweeted” over 60 times so far:

"I think the fact that Celine did Mink pumps for Spring is Disgusting. The Fur industry is savage and Barbaric".
Cutrone followed this Tweet up with the following a few hours later, to her 158,000 Twitter followers: 
"Are you FUR-ious with MS. Philo of Celine 4 using Fur in her Spring collection? OUTDATED TORUTURE @peta"

The use of fur in fashion is a highly divisive issue. 

The animal rights lobby has very strong opinions - and a lunatic fringe element. But many ordinary consumers also have strong opinions on the subject of fur. As do even some designers, who avoid using fur or even animal skins. The best example being Stella McCartney.

The majority of fashion designers, however - and it follows, their clients - do not have a problem with fur, arguing, as Karl Lagerfeld has done, that the fur trade represents jobs for people in many remote communities and if you are going to eat meat and wear leather, what's the difference? Especially if the fur comes from fur farms in, for instance, northern Europe where animal husbandry practices are, insist the relevant organisations, strictly regulated.

As a high-profile fashion figure - who is also a judge on Cycle 19 of America's Next Top ModelKelly Cutrone has even been singled out by PETA for her anti-fur campaigning in her Normal Gets You Nowhere memoir, in which she writes that she believes it is “absolutely gross that fashion people are still celebrating fur".

And look, that’s fine. Cutrone is entitled to her opinion and it's an opinion shared by many. 

But what about the clients with which she chooses to align herself? When challenged on Twitter about having worked with Chado Ralph Rucci, an American brand that does use fur, Cutrone responded "I did one show for him and he did not use fur in that show"

Jeremy Scott on the other hand, a long-time client of Cutrone's PR firm Peoples Revolution, also happens to be described by Finland's Saga Furs as a “long-time partner” of the company. And although the fuzzy Mary Janes in Scott's FW1112 collection that pre-empted Céline's all-mink pumps appear to have been made from fake fur, several pieces in the same collection were made from real fox fur sourced from Saga Furs. Scott presented yet more Saga Fur pieces in his Fall/Winter 2012/2013 collection earlier this year. 

In a 2011 interview with the Fur Insider site, Scott waxed lyrical on both Saga Furs' fox and mink products and noted that “Fur has become the epitome of fashion at this point. I think one would say what is high fashion without fur?" 


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