Tag Archives: fur

From Backstage to Backcountry: Herding by Helicopter

As promised, I’m following up Fashion Week with some behind-the-scenes stories with you.

Today we’ll go from backstage NYC to backcountry NZ,  thanks to the wonders of video and one very generous helicopter pilot. Ready?

Last week, after Karen Walker‘s Fall 2010 show I snuck back to say hello and find out some details for Dossier. Specifically, I wanted to know about those shag-alicious sheepskin vests. Karen, like my brother-in-law Doug, happens to be Kiwi–which is to say, from New Zealand. Are the sheepskins Kiwi too? I wondered.

In Sheepskin Backstage, Hatnim Lee for Dossier Style

“They are!” exclaimed Karen. But she said they had a hell of a time finding just the right ones. “We had to go all the way to the south of the South Island,” she said. “The coldest part of the country.”

In Sheepskin Backcountry, Jenni Avins for Closettour

The coldest part of the country happens to be an area I know quite well. You may think I’m just some crazy city kid that runs around garment factories and fashion shows wearing overalls ironically, but I’ve actually herded sheep with the best of the best on New Zealand’s wild South Island.

Flying over New Zealand’s Southern Alps

After I left Edun, and before I went to journalism school, I took some time off down on the farm with my sister and her husband, Doug, who herds New Zealand Merinos–just the sort of sheep that shagged up Karen Walker’s collection. Usually we can get the job done with trucks, whistles and well-trained dogs, but sometimes we actually need to hop in a helicopter, depending on where those sheepies are grazing.

You might think someone’s stolen my password, but I’m totally serious. Here’s some original footage from my morning heli-herding with Doug’s next door neighbor. We flew from his farm, way beyond the timberline, and chased (or “mustered” in Kiwi terms) the herd back down to greener pastures.

From backcountry to backstage: it’s warm; it’s wild; it’s wool.

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Johhny Weir’s Cold Shoulder

Like me (see last post), figure skater Johnny Weir, who’s headed to the Winter Olympics next week, has recently had to grapple with the ethics of wearing fur.

Last week he agreed to replace a fox fur complement on his skating costume with faux fur, in what he called a “a draw” in his standoff against Friends of Animals after, wait for it…President Priscilla Feral wrote a letter to Weir that he called scary and threatening, setting off quite the tiff.

Weir made the change, but said in a statement first published by icenetwork, “I do not want something as silly as my costume disrupting my second Olympic experience and my chance at a medal, a dream I have had since I was a kid.”

Silly?!

image via NYMag

Check him out in Rodarte’s custom-knitted costume in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Amazing. I’m actually going ice skating tonight, and while I haven’t quite worked out what to wear, you can bet I’m going to have Mr. Weir in mind for inspiration.

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Is Old Fur the New Fur?

A few weeks ago, after I finished an interview with Jade Harwood, one of the lovely designers behind Wool and the Gang, she pulled on a blonde-colored lush fur coat. I told her I thought it was beautiful. She told me it was her mom’s, and that she didn’t even know what kind it was.

Image from Let’s Get Ripped and Go to the Aquarium (Doesn’t that sound fun?)

Then, last weekend, my friend Indrani wore a chocolate-colored “chinchilla” (she reckons it’s really rabbit) to a dinner party. The moment someone paid her a compliment, she said it was second-hand, from Sidney’s in Williamsburg, since displaced by an overpriced supermarket. It makes her feel gangsta. Come to think of it, Indrani usually listens to NPR, and that night she picked me up bumping Hot 97.

Puffy and Kate Moss photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue, 1999

There’s no getting around it. Wearing fur is fun. It makes us youngsters feel like we’re playing dress up–whether in our mom’s closets or Puffy’s. But it also makes us feel kind of guilty. Fur, after all, comes from animals. (My mom used to tell me her full-length beaver coat, which I named “Buster,” was made of roadkill, the implications of which I never fully understood.) It seems second-hand fur eases that sting.

Faran Krentcil of NYLON asked in the Huffington Post whether her hand-me-down black Mongolian lamb jacket was more ethical than her friend’s “vegan” fast-fashion. I would surmise that it is, and though I’ve seen neither, I’d be willing to bet money that Faran’s jacket is  much better looking, and a hell of a lot warmer.

Ethically, it’s the “it’s already dead,” justification, taken one step further, because the profits are removed from the brand that commissioned the slaughtering and skinning (sorry, it’s the truth) of the animal, so we’re not really supporting fur, per se, but rather…recycling! My mom has yet to send Buster my way, so for now I’m rocking this trend on my feet. I’m honestly not sure if the goats these came from were shorn or skinned, but I know these Lotto boots, which were my final purchase of the last decade at Amarcord in Williamsburg, are from the 1960s.

They are SO much warmer than Uggs, and less embarrassing to leave the house in. Okay, that second point may be debatable, but when it’s too snowy for sneakers, I wear these to the gym with leggings and a Patagonia top, and pretend I’m aprés ski, rather than midday yoga. Also, they’re a consistent hit with men of a certain age, and by a certain age, I mean toddlers. One such little fella was grinning at me on the subway the other day. When his dad asked him what he thought those shoes were made of, the boy gave me a little smile as he considered the question.

“Dinosaur,” he said.

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