Marc Kaufman Furs Milan Paris and New York Furs Fly On the Runways

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Marc Kaufman Furs: Furs Being Shown in Milan Paris and New York

  • Catherine Caines
  • From: The Australian
  • July 27, 2011 12:00AM

Burberry joins the fur revival. MORE PHOTOS Source: Supplied

AFTER decades of fur being out in the cold, the runways of Milan, Paris and New York are now lined with fox, rabbit and mink.

The fear of being targeted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals still exists and many designers still go to pains to point out their faux fur ranges, but celebrities and luxury labels are becoming increasingly brazen about their passion for pelts. Look no further than singer Beyonce Knowles, styled in a fox-fur stole by cult French designer Alexandre Vauthier for the fold-out cover of her latest album 4. Then there’s Rihanna, flaunting a colourful Prada fur stole in her S&M music video.

Fur is clearly no longer restricted to matrons and opera opening-night attendees. This comeback is rising from the street and red carpet with style-setters such as Kate Moss, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Rachel Zoe, Carine Roitfeld, Anna Dello Russo, Emmanuelle Alt and Abbey Lee Kershaw wearing fur.

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Edgy labels such as Isabel Marant, Altuzarra and Australia’s Scanlan & Theodore are giving street credibility to fur and finally severing its cultural ties with 1980s ostentation.

“One possible reason for the comeback is that fashion is often in polar opposition to the cultural and economic climate,” says Amber Long, director of Brisbane’s Jean Brown boutique. “In times of economic downturn, such as we have seen in the past few years, the fashion industry’s response is to renew the consumers’ desire for luxury goods.”

Most committed to carrying fur are Burberry, Prada and Gucci, which are testing the local appetite for larger investment pieces. Fur trimmings on accessories, such as bags and shoes, add a touch of glamour to Armani and Louis Vuitton’s collections.

With powerful designer brands expanding their retail commitments in Australia by opening larger flagship stores, complete with expanded collections, the availability of designer fur is set to increase.

“Designers now think about their ranges globally and so whatever you can buy in Russia or London you should be able to buy locally,” one leading luxury group’s PR says. She did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals from fur protesters.

“Pieces must travel and there will be customers in any part of the world who are buying for their market. It’s that idea of having the offering available in any store because people move around now and are travelling so much more.”

With its rainbow hued spring-summer 2011 collection, Prada turned fur into a show stopper. Gucci quickly followed, presenting 70s-styled, jewel-toned furs on the runway for its autumn-winter 2011 range.

“I think it’s interesting to see how Prada and Gucci have shown fur in their recent collections, almost like costume jewellery,” says Tracy Baker, PR director of Baker Brands whose clients include Westfield Sydney, home of Prada and Gucci’s new flagship stores.

A fashion and luxury veteran, Baker was slammed by the media in 2004 for wearing a Gucci fur jacket to a Myer event she had organised.

Baker says fur’s big comeback reflects consumers’ confidence about breaking rules.

“Emotionally, there is something decadent and slightly forbidden about fur that makes the experience of wearing it very luxurious,” Baker says.

Fur’s revival is also fuelled by the growth of markets where a love of sable and chinchilla outweighs PETA’s protests.

The global fur industry is worth an estimated $15.7 billion annually and is growing.

“When China and Russia, two countries with a deep historical attachment to fur and none of the Western squeamishness, and a taste for conspicuous consumption, become luxury brands’ major growth markets, it’s no surprise that pelts appear back on the runway,” says John Matthews, Loop Branding’s consumer and cultural expert. For luxury brands, fur is one of the few textiles that sells internationally and is no longer dictated by weather, time zone or language.

At Australian Fashion Week this year, fur looks were spotted but, as Long observes, fashionistas wore flexible pieces rather than full-length numbers. “Caplets and vests, stoles and bags are a more practical, climate-appropriate interpretation of the trend,” she says.

It’s a substantial consumer shift since 1994 when five famous supermodels posed naked across a defiant banner reading “We’d rather go naked than wear fur”.

Let’s not forget fashion can be fickle. One of those supermodels in the 1994 poster was Naomi Campbell, who was back on the runway for Fendi in 1997 wearing a full-length fur coat. Designers can change their minds, too.

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