Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Surrounded by Fur
In the 1980s, I was a strict vegetarian. One day, I met a friend and his girlfriend on the street. I am sure my friend's girlfriend anticipated a chilly comment as I stroked her fur coat and asked what it was. It was not a rhetorical question at all nor meant to be sarcastic. I really had very little experience with fur, and this was the most remarkable thing I had ever felt.
She told me it was seal. I don't recall how I responded, but I said very little and tried to be as diplomatic as possible. I am sure she was well familiar with the the anti-fur sentiment and did not need any education concerning animal rights on 8th Street in Greenwich Village.
It could be worse. During the same period, I met a woman at a vegetarian restaurant who showed up in a full-length fur. I was aghast - this was the closest I had ever come to testing the limits of free expression. I warned her to be prepared for some form of verbal assault by any of the customers who would certainly find the wearing of fur offensive. Fortunately, and to my surprise, there were no accusations or wars of words.
Furs and the fur industry are a highly contentious matter. I recently photographed an anti-fur protest outside Max Mara in SoHo, but I decided not to post them on this site because the posters being displayed were so disturbingly graphic.
Kaufman Furs is located at 232 West 30th Street in the heart of the fur district and is one of the larger and older furriers in the city. On their website I see a "Dare to Wear" link soliciting models. One way to handle the fur controversy at this point in time, I suppose, is by offering a challenge to models willing to brave public anti-fur outcry. In the August 2008 issue of French Vogue magazine, there was an anti-fur backlash editorial piece called "Fashion Reality," featuring sexy and semi-nude models in furs, apparently echoing the "fur is back" campaign of the 1980s.
Some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Austria, have banned fur farming altogether. A lot of fur farming has moved to China, where there are essentially no regulations. Some reports appear to indicate that fur sales are on the rise and are at all time highs. One way or another, I feel surrounded by fur...
In 2006, I took a photo of a series of Barbie dolls in furs on Houston street in SoHo.