Kim Kardashian gets flour thrown at her for wearing it. Pop star Beyoncé caused a stir when she wore it to a vegan restaurant. Even NFL fans weighed in on the fashion staple when football legend Joe Namath sported the look at the Super Bowl.
Fur. It conjures up images of royalty, status and wealth. It also raises eyebrows and questions about the treatment of animals.
Stephens is examining the evolution of fur, leather and suede, as well as faux fur, pleather and animal prints in the Historic Costume Gallery’s Spring 2014 exhibit.
“Faux Real: Exploring Natural and Synthetic Fur, Leather and Animal Motifs” includes coyote, fox, mink and other fur coats, wraps and hats on display in the gallery, located on the mezzanine of Lela Raney Wood Hall. There are also more recent pieces that use acrylic, vegan leather and other synthetic materials and feature animal prints and animal-themed jewelry.
The theme “Faux Real,” is a play on contradictions, said Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Fashion and Design.
While faux fabrics might seem friendlier options on the surface, they aren’t without environmental damage. Synthetic fibers are made from harsh chemicals that damage the eco-system and emit harmful gases. They also aren’t high enough quality to be worn for more than a couple of years, but can take decades to degrade, senior Chloe Willett found in her research. The exhibit is part of Willett’s senior project for her self-initiated major combining fashion, art history and art.
Faux Real “might spark a conversation, and I hope it does,” McMurry said. “Not just about the use of fur and animal byproducts but also about the significance of animals in history and fashion. Why do we even wear animal prints?”
The exhibit is open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Feb. 15 through May 10. There will be a special reception from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26.
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