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A walk on the wild side: Investigations in reconstructing vintage fur

Posted on December 1, 2012

Fur. Feral, instinctual, sensual: humanity’s first garments. Fur moved, in modern fashion, from status symbol to scourge.

Though it’s true that the fur industry, with its leg traps and cages, is insupportable and unthinkable in its cruelty.  From a modern stand point we no longer require animals for warmth and our very survival, given our geographical climate & available resources.  Our consciousness has grown around the rights of animals and the ethics of killing for beauty. However from a primal sensibility, one cannot deny the appeal of the texture and lustre of the fibres, the very physicality of fur to our senses.

There are still many fur garments in existence – discarded and/or kept in closets.  These are the monogrammed vintage opera wraps and knee-length coats that belonged to our mothers, grandmothers and aunties.

A few years ago, I was approached by a neighbour who offered me her mother’s fur coat, she asked if I could use the fur in some way…….. and as life oftentimes works, several other vintage coats and wraps were given to me through family friends in quick succession.  Their generosity also handed over the ethical dilemma of what to do with them now?

In receiving them in gratitude and a little angst, I thought of my 15 year old vegetarian self, who was critical of my fur clad grandmother arriving for Xmas dinner. That 15 year old argued for the rights of animals and railed with disgust against the inhumane treatment of fur animals by the generation who loved the luxurious status that fur represented.

More recently, I saw the vitality of the gorgeous fur and I felt determined to find a way to honour these creatures, to venerate the spirit of the animals while making respectful use out of the luxurious warmth their fur offered.  With that determination, I found my solution to sort through these dilemmas. To resurrect their wild nature, make something functional and wonderful out of what was cast off.

It is necessary within my creative process, to make the connection of creativity to source, and in turn, to have the things I make be imbued with meaningfulness.

In inviting the spirit of the animal, represented by its very skin and fur (that coat that belonged to our mothers, grandmothers and aunties) + shapeshift its form (turning the discarded coat into blanket or pillow to rest in/on) = the result is essentially resting in luxurious primal warmth and in the comfort of a family keepsake.  The fur coat transformed into something that has substance and resurrection.

There is something about your grandmother’s fur coat: perhaps you can’t bring yourself to wear it down the street, but I can transform it into a blanket that will be in your family for generations ~ honouring the spirit of the animals while making respectful use out of the warmth and comfort it offers.

Each of the fur throws have hand-stitched quilt back made from recycled silk linings, using high-end silk upholstery remnants. I can make accompanying fur embellished silk pillows. A custom fur throw takes me two days to lovingly assemble into a piece of timeless elegance that can be handed down through generations.

Send me your coat and I will pair it with fine silk with your choice of colour palette. Prices start at $125 for pillows.  Each made by hand and no two identical. They can be monogramed or inscribed.

With respect,

Ayla