Fur is, unquestionably, a modern day decadence. Which is an odd thought, considering fur has been around as a luxurious fashion item since 1840. What spells classic more than 176 years of chic?
The 1920s were a turning point, a boom era for everything fabulous, propelling fur into the spotlights of the fashion elite. Oh to be sitting pretty next to Hemmingway at Brasserie Lip, listening to monologues without pauses. Or to run over the road and rub shoulders with Sartre, Beauvoir or the lovable larrikin Picasso. Can you imagine what you'd be wearing at that time? If you were Pablo's wife, the glamorous Ballet Russes dancer Olga Khokhlova, you'd have been in Chanel matched with a fur stole. The 1920s were a wonderful moment in history, embodying glamour and freedom and throwing care to the wind. High society came together with bohemian artists, musicians and intellectuals, from around the world, to the streets and bars of Paris. This phenomenon influenced fashion immensely, and is arguably still trending today. What does one wear if a cocktail and potential wild after party is in-store? A short dress and a big fur coat! Furs in that period took on exaggerated shapes, in contrast to the slim-hipped silhouettes worn underneath. Big fur collars and fluted fur cuffs came down to narrow bottoms creating upside-down bell shapes or cocoon versions of a trench-coat. The beginning of the twenties were about whizzing around town in your model T (which wasn't exactly warm) in a fur ankle grazing coat made in vertical stripes of pelts. The end of the twenties raised hemlines for better dancing, and fur abided by the new trend.
Fox fur, in white and grey, hit a popularity peak amongst silver screen starlets from the ‘30s through to the ‘40s, which repeated itself again in the 1950s. Mink fur became synonymous with expensive gifts from dashing lovers, the backstage of theatres and later Marilyn Monroe. The ‘60s introduced shearling and made good use of the new miniskirt craze, with fur-trimmed A-line capes that exposed pin-thin legs in cotton tights. The ‘70s continued on from turn of the century bohemia, possibly with even greater force, resulting in embroidered coats trimmed with sheepskin or fox fur.
Casual is code for Chic
Quality Fur, much like diamonds or good caviar, is used with care. Not immune to the social changes that shape our eras, but also not hyper-reactive to trends. Fur, even through the garish ‘80s, has kept its cool regardless of its time. What does that mean for fur now? What does our time reflect? Always a tricky question without perspective distance. If we look to the stars of the moment, fur is worn enormous, colourful and short. Or it’s worn in a minimal luxe colour palette of camel, grey and white. Leading fashion designers (Karl and friends) and the darlings they dress, have embraced a new world of creativity in fur. This burst of inspiration has been like no other time.
Designers noticed that women were no longer wearing fur exclusively for events or special occasions. They looked towards fashion seasons to create furs as everyday wearable items, changing techniques, shapes and even applications to fit the new model of stylish women. This is probably the most noticeable factor impacting our era today. Fine dining, is often a very casual affair, pilates studios the new cocktail bars. The international need to relax a bit, (maybe a result of our hectic lifestyles) translated in fashion, as an almost illusive casualness. Ironically, for the past half a decade, we've all desperately tried to look effortlessly chic. Mr & Mrs Italy made it all a bit easier for us, with a cargo style fur parka (the ones you throw on for your walk to said pilates studio) lined lusciously with fur for that discreet sly-fabulous. A fur-trimmed parka, worn with a beanie, rabbit fur lined boots and a very large soy latte, is a plain necessity for Spring/Summer Fashion Week in New York (when its pushing 2 degrees below zero). Fendi has injected playfulness into the use of fur, with bag bugs (handbag charms) pop prints with furry eyebrows and even branded their name in fur. The all-over effect is youthful, happy, bright and not-too-serious. We hope that last sentence sums up our generation, our era, but then again we will just have to wait and see.