Tragic Trendsetters: When Celebrities Wear Fur
Celebrities have long weighed in on the exploitation and killing of animals for fashion. Since the 1980s, when Olivia Newton-John started her own fake fur line -- Koala Blue’s Dare to Fake It -- Hollywood has increasingly taken note of the politics of fur.
Yet some celebs turn a cold shoulder to the harm done by parading in pelts. In June, Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie (full name: Stacy Ann Ferguson) wore a fur-and-leather black jacket by Louis Vuitton at the Foundation for AIDS Research Inspiration Gala in Paris. Kate Moss had previously worn the same fur jacket on the runway. Rather than bring out one of those “Who Wore It Best” comparisons, the better question to ask is: Who wore it more callously?
I am an unabashed Full House fan. So it especially saddens me to report that Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen - twins who shared the role of Michelle in the classic 1980s sitcom – have both worn fur out and about numerous times. Each twin sported a fur coat during a recent photo shoot with fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Mary Kate did a cover shoot for the September 2010 issue of Marie Claire, and wore fur and feathers in photos inside the magazine. Both Mary-Kate and Ashley wore black fur coats at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards last November at Skylight Soho in New York City, and the online fashion trend-watching site Pop Sugar captured a photograph of Ashley wearing a fur hat (apparently lynx) earlier this year in Manhattan.
The two have even used fur in their own collaborative luxury fashion line, The Row, whose 2011 collection features fox furs in black, caramel, and turquoise blue. “See, all we do is pet things all day!” joked Mary-Kate to Vogue reporter Sarah Mower. Regarding the skins of a python, Ashley said, “I want to make driving gloves out of these, with the knuckles out!”
Last July 21, rapper Snoop Dogg (formal name: Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr.) appeared on “The Wendy Williams Show” wearing a jacket lined with wolf fur. 3 It was not the first time the star has donned fur in public. Oddly enough, he protested the wearing of fur in the fourth episode of his MTV comedy sketch show, “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle.” 4 Apparently, to him, that was simply a joke.
Another repeat offender is Patti LaBelle, who has donned many fur coats through the years, with an attitude of outspoken defiance. In April, Mano Swartz reported that it created a full-length chinchilla coat just for her. 6 She’s been seen out and about in full-length furs in all seasons, wearing them to the airport or to special events. 7
Kim Kardashian wore two different fur coats in one day for her reality show, “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.” Kim may want to listen to the wisdom of her younger sister Khloe, who has stated that everyone in her family wears fur except for her. 9 But Kim has taken to her blog to “ to set the record straight” and insist she won’t stop wearing fur garments – at least those which the star has already purchased.
Then there’s the hypocrisy. Naomi Campbell once appeared in an anti-fur campaign, later to show up on the runway wearing a sable-lined Fendi coat. 11 Madonna, who declared a dedication to vegetarianism in the documentary “Truth or Dare,” has nonetheless worn fur on numerous occasions. One of Madonna’s coats comprised the skins of 40 chinchillas; one hat, the skins of five foxes. 12
Celebrities can wise up to the wrong of sacrificing fur-bearers’ lives whether through the enormously painful trapping and the subsequent killing of wildlife or the continuous cruelty perpetuated on fur farms, says Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral, who recalls the feeling of coming to grips with the reality behind the coats. As a teenager, Priscilla was given a rabbit coat. “My mother knew I liked rabbits, and in some strange way I liked the coat,” remembers Priscilla, “yet something seemed wrong. Did these rabbits all commit suicide? Were they collected after dying of natural causes?”
Priscilla put the coat in the basement and hoped to forget about it. But in November 1974, as a recently hired employee at Friends of Animals, Priscilla received an assignment: come up with an idea to protest the season’s winter fur fashion show, hosted at a Fifth Avenue venue by none other than the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“I took the large steel-jaw trap from the office, clamped it onto that rabbit-fur coat, smeared red lipstick around the trap and dragged the coat back and forth along Fifth Avenue as people came and went from the luncheon. Finally I’d found a reason to take that coat out. It was my coming-out as well. The ASPCA stopped holding fur promotions from then on.”
The stage was set for the eighties. There is no excuse for any of today’s celebrities to lag three decades behind the times.
Lee Hall contributed to this article.
- Sarah Mower, “Behind The Row: Meet Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen” (March 2011); available with comment section: http :// www . vogue . com / magazine / article / mary - kate - and - ashley - olsen - balancing - act /
- LaBelle told Newsweek in 2007, “I like my coats. I don't want PETA to get mad at me, but I love chinchilla. It's so soft. I love cashmere. They get mad at a little girl like me. But you know I work for it. When they start buying me coats is when I start listening to them."