EVER since the first Neolithic man slayed a woolly mammoth and realised that as well as being useful for food it could also be used for warmth in the harsh winters by turning the thick woolly coat into a blanket; fur coats have been a symbol of status, wealth and good taste.
In more recent times fur coats have become a lot more readily available in the mass produced synthetic form (more commonly known as faux fur) and can be quite reasonable to buy.
At one of my recent vintage fairs one of the stall holders had a collection of real fur coats and a few fur wraps with the head and paws still on it, which freaked me out a little. This got me thinking that although some of the other fur coats didn’t have heads attached to them they may as well have considering the fact that although it wasn’t as obvious that they came from a real animal the point is that they were once an animal.
I’m not about to get into a debate about the rights and wrongs of fur because although I don’t agree with the whole leaving the head on look I do think that some fur coats are incredibly beautiful and elegant and at the end of the day I can’t exactly argue against fur when I eat meat.
I recently inherited a real fur full length coat and have yet to wear it however I certainly appreciate its value and its history. When my great grandmother travelled to Belfast to purchase the coat it would have been a longer and more complicated journey than just hopping into the car and making the hour and a half journey. In those days a fur coat was not only a fashion statement but also a symbol of who you were, your wealth and taste and you couldn’t get one on your local high street, especially if you lived in remote Fermanagh. Not everyone could afford to have a fur coat and therefore by owning one people could immediately see that you were someone important.
Nowadays you can buy faux fur in most high-street stores and can get them in all shades and styles for very reasonable money; however you will still find it much more difficult to get a real fur jacket and will still pay a lot more money for one. Mass produced synthetic fur can be made much quicker and costs less to manufacture and so is much cheaper to buy whereas a lot more skill and time goes into producing a real fur coat.
During winter the fur coats always come out however this season they seem to be a lot more whacky than ever with designers such as Anna Sui displaying colourful varieties on the catwalk, Simone Rocha going for a leopard print and Dries Van Noten’s cuddly teddy bear style furs.
The main difference is that most designers have opted for the faux option this season so whether you are a fan of the fake or not this season it’s all about faking it so animal lovers can breathe a sigh of relief.