Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Fashion goes all McCarthy era on us

Fashion repeats its trends endlessly. This is because chic doesn’t take George Santayana’s advice about learning the lessons of history – in fashion’s case sometimes bad history – it’s doomed to repeat them, even the hideous ones. [Do you hear me, disco divas redux? Are you listening, Joan Collins shoulder pad fanciers?]

Now we have a particularly repellent case of fashion repeating itself. I read in that other Times, the Big Apple one, that for the first time since the end of the Reagan years, a majority of fashion designers are using fur. In New York, that number reaches two-thirds.

In spite of the PETA ads and our advancing moral awareness of animal cruelty, in spite of James Cameron’s wife’s Oscar dress that didn’t even have to kill silkworms to make silk, in spite of the estimable Tim Gunn’s fearless opposition to fur, which he talked to me about in a blog I posted a few months ago – fur is back. Which means that all the cruelties of trapping and breeding and cages and killing are back too.

Fashion plays with the superfluous and ornamental – which is what makes it fun – but why does it insist on having blood on its hands and on runway models’ bodies?

Evidently, according to that Big Apple Times, for the same reason some congressmen open themselves to accusations of being in the pockets of some special interest or another: It’s the money. Reports are that furriers and fur breeders, just like defense contractors and pharmaceutical companies, have been courting their targets – in this case, not members of Congress but couturiers.

They romance the designers with samples and technical assistance and junkets [all-expenses-paid trips to where? Fur farms? Charming]. And young designers – members of the greenest generation in modern history, the generation that’s grown up aware of Rwanda and blood diamonds – evidently don’t have a problem with blood fur.

The personal is still political, isn’t it? And it doesn’t get much more personal than what you put on your person.

Scientists have just found the two genes in opium poppies that make morphine and codeine, which means that pretty soon they can make it in the laboratory, not in a field. They can already create meat in a Petri dish without killing the creature. So where’s lab-grown, cruelty-free fur?

Vintage TV shows and movies where fur was the ne plus ultra of chic, a must-have merit badge of moolah, are a reminder of how far we’d come – or so I had thought. Remember the ‘’I Love Lucy’’ episode where she connives and whines until Ricky buys her the corpses of stone martens to sling around her neck?

That was the same era as Sen. Joseph McCarthy and cigarette ads with doctors in them. We’re better than all of that now. Surely we’re better than fashionista fur, too.

-- Patt Morrison


Comments () | Archives (14)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tara Murphy

haven't seen as many dead animals as the reagan inauguration?

sandra m

Only old ladies, pimps, and the totally heartless still think fur is fashionable.


If every single fur item being sold came with a video showing the cruelty in fur farms and the pain and suffering of the animals the fur is taken from, I doubt it would make any sort of comeback. But than again humans are cruel.


Thank you for writing this


There is one thing more personal than what you put on your person--what you put IN your person; what you eat. … And no one wants to touch that subject.


Here Here. I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately the fashion industry continues to hold WAY too much influence over our society as a whole.

Jack Henry

The fur industry appears to have successfully lobbied Anna Wintour to influence designers as well, most likely by buying enormous amounts of advertising pages in Vogue. She's become their most powerful evangelist. Notice how often she's seen in fur during fall/winter and how often fur is seen in her photo spreads. Ms. Wintour must have figured out that to raise more ad dollars for her publication she just needed to help put down some animals. Ugh.

Alexandra Huck

They make luxurious and perfectly beautiful man-made 'fur', but the problem is it's not expensive enough. After all it's not what you wear, but the fact that you can afford to pay so much more that counts. Fashion can be a lot of fun but not when we throw both compassion and integrity out the window.


Thank you Patt!

It's hard to fathom the shallowness and callousness and selfishness of those who have no problem killing beautiful animals so they can "decorate" their bodies with the animals' corpses in a futile attempt to gain positive attention.


I canceled my subscriptions to VOGUE and ALLURE after they featured fur in their fashion pages. I encourage other people to do the same.

Elizabeth DeVasher

How tragic that these arbiters of taste and style - the couturiers - are willing to inflict unspeakable agony on animals large and small in the name of plying their trade. It's 2010 - the awareness of the extreme cruelty involved in using fur as a fashion accessory has never been higher. There is no reason, there is no excuse. These people are monsters.


PETA doesn't do a thing for animal awareness. They're much too busy with Bob Barker doing real estate deals, ignoring restaurants that serve whale and priding themselves on the extermination of the American pet. Get real!

Fashion does what fashion does. Just because some folks don't like it, they get all up in arms. Then in changes in 6 wks.


Is this REALLY anything for adults to fuss over? Or is it the bemoaning of styles by a bunch of MILFs who can't wear the stuff because no matter how much lipo or botox, they're still freakin' middle-aged?

Lucy Shelton

Yes, -- this is “REALLY anything for adults to fuss over”. Whenever cruelty exists, especially to those who cannot fend for themselves, people should take action and do whatever they can to stop it. There is so much pain and suffering of the fur-bearing animals used for fur and it’s just for frivolous vanity. Just Google any animal protection organization’s website: Friends of Animals, In Defense of Animals, PETA, etc. to find out about it. Fur garments should not be a part of a civilized society and should be banned everywhere.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated...” ~ Gandhi

Thank you so much, Patt!

Emma F

Thank you for posting, I agree whole heartedly for all the afore mentioned reasons. To hypatia thank you as well for your opinion; its not much of a issue if we don't hear both sides. However I disagree: fashion is in it for the money, which is fine, but not at the cost of life. Personally I believe it is not so much as intentional malice but simply ignorance, please listen to a fox scream as its fur is ripped from its body and tell me you support fur. Instead of throwing insults at these "barbaric fashionistas" lets educate first; I don't believe people can disagree.



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...