Jamaican supermodel Jeneil Williams is the star of a stunning fashion story in the current issue of top Swedish title Bon that will get the anti-fur lobby hot and bothered, until they realise that what is being profiled is the best of faux fur in current collections. Then again, maybe not.
Fur, after all remains a notoriously emotional issue and there are even those who believe that mimicking the intrinsic desirable qualities of fur creates consumer desire for the real thing. Naturally, the issue is a complex one. It’s probably even more complex than ever before. Some ecologists, for example, argue that fur has a low negative impact on the environment and therefore is a material that is environmentally sensible to use if correctly regulated. Similarly some anti-Globalisation economists point out that fur production is potentially a means of engaging with many indigenous peoples as a form of fair trade.
These are hardly the traditional quarters from which one expects pro-fur arguments. Yet, if anything, they are based in strong empirical evidence lacking in many of the highly subjective responses based on ethics developed some thirty or forty years ago that may no longer make sense in today’s world. To quote one pro-fur advocate who shall remain nameless, “Which is more cruel? Wearing a cheap cotton garment that ensures that a twelve-year-old Pakistani child will slave away endlessly never to rise out of poverty or paying a Laplander a fair price for a pelt of an animal?”
All in all, the middle ground – working with the increasingly sophisticated faux furs that see no animal harmed- seems the most sensible path. Or at least the one likely to keep more people happy. The ‘Yeah!’ fashion story illustrates perfectly how some of today’s top designers are turning their own hands to producing stunning cruelty-free designs in faux fur. Some opt for highly convincing facsimiles of the real thing whilst others intentionally play with the potential for artifice of such synthetics.
Statuesque Jeneil proves to be the perfect model to show off skins; an Amazon warrior clad in beautiful fake pelts forming the fabric for designs by the likes of Marios Scwab, Fillipa K, Ralph Lauren and Maison Martin Margiela, amongst others. Ben Weller’s photography, with styling by Marcus Söder, has a straight-up, in-your-face clarity that confidently understands that the stunning Ms Williams is all that’s needed to show off the garments to maximum effect.