Yesterday’s opening of a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York heralded a rare collaboration between the fashion world and the animal rights activists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
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The exhibition, “Wild: Fashion Untamed”, takes a look at the use of fur and feathers in fashion. “It covers animalism and concepts of femininity, sexual fetishes, seduction, excess, coquetry and class standing,” curator Andrew Bolton told Reuters. PETA spokesman Michael McGraw saw the controversial exhibit as a way of changing fashion “from within the industry rather than from the outside.” This time the organization refrained from throwing animal blood or holding a protest outside the museum, preferring instead to work with the museum to educate the public.
However, the exhibition is sure to raise tempers and temperatures with its, at times, shocking displays of opulence at the expense of animals. A pink ostrich dress by Roberto Cavalli, who sponsored the exhibition, a Prada dress made of ostrich feathers, a crocodile head piece and a jaguar coat by Christian Dior are some of the pieces that should garner some strong reactions.
PETA has its work cut out for it. Despite its frequent boycotts and protests, the wearing of fur has increased in the recent past. This is partially due to the hip-hoppers who wear bling and fur like it’s going out of style. The latter of course was going out of style, but the hip-hop movement has almost single-handedly brought it back.
Thankfully high-street retailers have countered the sudden resurgence of fur with a great deal of fun faux-fur alternatives. PETA has provided all such shops and designers with a sticker proclaiming: “All our fur is fake”, which they can stick onto their shop windows. TopShop went so far as to blow up the proclamation and hang it in its London flagship window. Further declarations were hung in its remaining 280 stores throughout the UK. Zara and Mango have followed TopShop’s lead by announcing that they will be fur-free from January 2005 onwards.