Falling in love with fur

From Anna Karenina to Aspen to right back in Milwaukee, Tamara Leigh tracks a building fur obsession.

By - Jan 26th, 2013 04:00 am

It started with going to see Anna Karenina before Christmas. I was captivated by the Dr. Zhivago-esque exquisiteness of the fur costumes—a visual treat for fashion followers like myself, and apparently the Oscar nominating committee, as Anna Karenina is up for Best Costume Design.

Then I went to Aspen for the holidays. Fashion in Aspen is an avalanche of stars and styles, especially the opening weekend of the X-Games at Snowmass, The Little Nell, and all along the cobblestone streets of the Rocky Mountains. There, in a storefront window, I saw a stunning snow-white fur coat. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, chasing fur from chinchilla, to mink, fox, and even faux, to find out what’s hot in winter fur from top designers.

In the name of “journalistic research,” I discovered Aspen’s haute couture. The luscious white coat in the window was an original Dennis Basso design, and the renowned master furrier was hosting a holiday party that evening. In the midst of luxurious furs, champagne, and the gracious Dennis Basso himself, I felt like Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman.

At Loro Piana’s, I discovered why the Canadian Fur Company considers Dominic Bellissimo’s designs to be the best. The reversible furs, featuring high-performance cashmere blends, offer the ultimate in warmth and wearability.

On display at Aspen Fur & Shearling LLC was a rustic, but no less rich, leather and fur western-look coat that seemed the epitome of both Aspen’s gold-rush history and present-day luxury lifestyle. Now owned by third-generation family member Mickey Apler, Aspen Fur & Shearling features unique pieces for both men and women.

When I wandered through Prada the same day, fur not only covered the floor, but also handbags, shoes, scarves, and outerwear for both genders. Aspen men, an eccentric bunch, wear fur with aplomb, and the rest of men’s fashion seems to be echoing their bravado.

If you’re seeking a faux fur alternative, Joy West Collection offers the highest quality for people wanting the look, but who are either opposed to wearing real fur, or are budget-conscious. True to their animal-friendly stance, Joy’s sales team welcomed both me and my Siberian Husky into their faux fur-filled boutique.

Back from Aspen, New York fashion editor/stylist Tim Bitici honored me with a “fur”-ious convo, including his invaluable advice regarding faux fur maintenance.

Among Tim’s choices for faux are Lanvin Paris, G-Star, and, believe it or not, Juicy Couture. “Fur is huge on all the runways for 2013,” said Tim, who loves mink, fox, gray wolf, and more exotic furs. He prefers chic gray (silvery) and golden brown furs the most, but he says his “ultimate favorite” is oxblood. “It’s so rich and luxe, like Lindsey Wixson in Prada.”

Fendi is how fur is done,” said Tim. “Tom Ford—wow, he does the red and yellow fur like no other. Jean Paul Gaultier for fun, colorful looks. Alexander McQueen for gorgeous shaped furs that are beyond original and stylish.”

Tim’s own shoots show his signature creativity: he puts a fur vest over a leopard coat in one shot, and a mohair fur in another. “Every designer is influenced by history and by fashion from the ’20s, ’40s, ’60s, ’70s, and film,” said Tim. “Designers find inspiration there and follow it through to their creations.”

Locally, along the coast of Lake Michigan, there’s plenty of places to find fur treasures in vintage and resale shops. Wisconsin was, after all, built on the business of beaver and pelt trading. Milwaukee’s A.J. Ugent Furs, on 84th & Capitol, boasts not only the best furs, but also on-site, accessible storage.

Wondering where to wear your fur? Any of the Bartolotta restaurants work, such as Joey Gerard’s in Mequon, where last week, more than a few fur coats were seen as the wind chill dipped below zero. There’s no better, or more beautiful, way to wrap yourself up this winter than with fur.

20 thoughts on “Threads: Falling in love with fur”

  1. Anonymous says:


    Don’t stop with fur that you wear, there’s also fur for the home too. Right now we’re dealing with some major winter weather and frigid temps, and that’s when my wife and I love to pull out the fur blankets made of arctic fox. Actually, we love to pull them out all winter long, but the colder it gets the better. Add to that either an alpaca or sheepskin blanket to sleep on with the arctic fox blankets to cover us and there’s no way on earth anyone could be cold. This also allows us to turn down the heating at night and save on energy costs too. It’s simply the only way to sleep so unbelievably warm and comfortable through the coldest winter night. Now mind you, getting out from under the covers in the morning requires some effort to leave the warmth and comfort of those awesome blankets.

    Once you sleep in fur, there’s just no going back to anything else.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love fur furnishings & incorporating it into interiors!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Tamara, I have just one question for you, have you ever viewed an animal fur farm environment & the entire animal skinning process?

  4. Anonymous says:

    @Faux You: No, I have not and I will reply to you as I did to another person I shared the article with: “I appreciate and understand your convictions, which is why I was sure to include faux fur in the article. My intent was not to offend you or anyone, so I apologize that you are, and perhaps I should’ve included a disclaimer. It can be a controversial subject. I meant it not to be. The fur fashion industry is not unlike it’s counterpart in food where restaurants, cooking shows, & magazines feature non-vegetarian menus all the time. It may seem a contradiction, but I love fur, meat & seafood, and animals, particularly pets. That said, your point of view is a valid one that both the food and fashion businesses need to be sensitive to as a demographic. Thank you for being that voice here.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    what’s choking me the most with this kind of article is that’s it’s absolutely possible to make beautiful fashion without harming the animals and the environement with the use of synthetic fur. Why is it so hard for the fashion industry to make a positive step and have compassion for animals ? is it so hard ?
    there should be a law to force them to use faux fur or no fur at all.
    I have a beautiful faux mink blanket : it is gorgeous. and if some peolpe are disturbed by the fact that faux fur is made with petrol, so do not use fur at all and spare animal lives !

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful article! There is nothing as good as the real thing! I just read a peer-reviewed life-cycle analysis and the science says real fur is far more environmentally friendly than faux. Real fur garments will last generations, while faux fur will last as a garment for barely a few years. When disposed, the real will decompose while the faux will sit in landfills for hundreds of years. The faux is also made from petro-chemicals, so its production is dependent on the oil industry, which has its own set of pollution problems. Real fur is the warmest, the most beautiful, and the most responsible choice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to ask….have you??

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes, and I can tell you that the stuff spouted by the animal rights taliban is one hundered percent lies! Ninety-five percent of all fur farms in America participate in a program developed by the American Veterinarian Medical Association to insure humane and ethical standards. Small animals are euthanized with manufactured bottled carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide which is odorless, colorless, and painless. Larger animals are euthanized by the same method as our pets, lethal injection. Animals that are mistreated or abused will not produce quality fur, nor will they likely breed or produce healthy litters.

    Going to the animal rights groups for information about fur is like going to the KKK for information about race.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What you need to realize is that not everyone shares your views and when you do then you will likely stop choking. I’m not trying to be smart, but it’s really that simple. Those who don’t want to use faux fur because it is inferior and made of petro-chemicals can buy real fur while those who don’t want to buy real fur because it involves taking the life of an animal can buy faux fur. It’s that simple.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tamara you don’t need to apologise to anyone. It is perfectly legal to wear real fur or faux, millions of people all over the world do so, it is perfectly normal. If someione takes offence over articles about real fur it represents a problem THEY have over issues, and not the authors. To expect someone to apologise to them for saying something that goes against THEIR views is offensive, narcissistic, and downright rude.

  11. Anonymous says:

    of course I have that’s why I don’t eat or wear the skins of animals and have dedicated myself to my Facebook page “Faux You”…….ignorance is not bliss for any animal exploited for profits nor any product unnecessarily tested on animals. You eat animals and wear the skins of animals and that’s because of ignorance & habit. And to Tamara, your “appreciation of others’ convictions” is quite frankly your way of making yourself feel better. The bottom line is there is absolutely nothing appealing whatsoever about fur and leather and we as humans are naturally not carnivorous and do not need to eat animals to survive. This is not about a points of view, it’s about facts…and you need to get yours straight.

  12. Anonymous says:

    the only thing you’re in love with is your vain ignorance. I repeat…. I guarantee you haven’t watched the animal skin process, the undercover videos of horrific fur farms, heard the cries of the animals, watched their suffering. I’m quite sure you haven’t. There’s one thing I just cannot stomach, and that’s ignorant, uneducated, human beings. The problem with this planet is, there are just too many of them walking around.

  13. Anonymous says:

    actually Mike you couldn’t be more wrong and please do post the link to the article you are referencing. There are plenty of FAUX alternatives that are made eco-consciously…do some research. A considerable amount of environmental damage occurring every day on this planet is in large part directly attributed to industrialized farming and fur farming.–Hunting/Fur–Trapping/Fur_Environmentt.htm,,………
    do yourselves and the animals a huge favor and start self educating….

  14. Anonymous says:

    There is controversy over whether faux fur or real fur is more “environmentally friendly.” A 2004 British newspaper article quotes Executive Director of Fur Commission USA Teresa Platt as saying that “‘[f]aux fur jackets do not degrade for at least 600 years and may take thousands of years,’” and Ruth Rosselson from In Touch magazine as saying that polyester and nylon, which are used to make fake fur, are synthetic materials that are “‘responsible for large-scale factory pollution of our waterways, rivers, canals and even the sea.’” [50] However, PETA alleges that it takes twenty times more energy to produce a real fur coat from farm-raised animals than it does to create a faux fur coat, that fur is not biodegradable because it contains chemical treatments to prevent it from rotting, and that “mink factory farms generate tens of thousands of tons of manure annually . . . [and can produce] nearly 1,000 tons of phosphorus, which wreaks havoc on water ecosystems.” [51]

  15. Anonymous says:

    So, if the KKK posted a video about race would you believe it without any critical questioning? Please name of the fur farms you claim to have visited along with their location, the owners, and when you were there so we can verifiy it with the owners of the farm.

    Ninety-five percent of fur farms in America are certified under a program developed by the American Veterinarian Medical Association to insure best practices and humane and ethical standards. However, to the malignant narcissistic animal rights taliban, it really does not matter how humane fur farms are, because the animal’s life is taken.

    Your rants of ignorance only reflect upon yourself.

  16. Anonymous says:

    […] what to wear on the wild and trending, Tamara Leigh’s TREND ON Fashion featured animal prints and fur from new and vintage […]

  17. Anon2 says:

    I’m very happy the anonymous was here to respond for the sake of the poor animals. I can’t believe fur is still even legal. If you want something high end and luxurious, there’s plenty out there like Stella McCartney who will help you. No need to steal an animal’s skin off it’s back just so you can feel like a king. Artic fox fux belongs on one place only; on an artic fox. Use your dead grandma if you want a leather couch.

  18. bella says:

    Wow, a PeTa follower lost their way and came here. I live in callifornia and the winters are actually pretty cold. So I am going to buy a beautiful patchwork silver fox and chinchilla blanket. That would be my heaven right there. Faux just isn’t that warm or give you that feel know does it?

  19. Fight for Animals says:

    Anyone who thinks animals are put on this earth for us to use and abuse needs to take a good hard look in the mirror. Animals feel pain, joy and all kinds of emotions as we do. Who gave us the right to imprison them for an unnecessary use as food & clothing? Read this slowly and carefully … There is NOTHING humane about keeping animals in captivity for our own selfish use!!! You can judge a society on how people treat animals and clearly the ones who thinks its ok to KILL helpless animals who have no VOICE have not evolved and are the walking dummies in this world who refuse to educate themselves. Would you wear that fur coat if it was dripping in blood??? Think carefully and really scutunize your decisions and what you’re doing. Killing animals is NOT ok. Farming animals for food or clothing not only is terrible for our environment but eating animal products is KILLING us too!!! Obesity, heart disease, colon cancer … The list goes on and one. This isn’t about about just being a voice for animals … It’s about human decency in how we treat every living breathing thing on this planet. Wouldn’t this be a kinder gentler more thoughtful world if we lived among animals in peace, with no killing??? EDUCATE yourself and hopefully you too will see fur farming or animal farming in general is WRONG & CRUEL!!! Imagine yourself being caged, abused, held in captivity- would you like it??? Hopefully more people will come to realize the kindest thing they can do in their lives is to teach their family & friends that a vegan lifestyle is not only better for us in many aspects of our lives but will give all animals a chance to live their lives peacefully and the way G-D intended. Please take the time and REALLY THINK HARD about what you’re doing.

  20. Thea says:

    Jeez, I can’t believe the religious ferocity of these PETA-types. And may I say that comment one of these animal rights types made “use your grandmother’s skin” was nasty. Why do animal-rights nuts think it’s ok to make such comments about people, but oh, the poor, harmless animals! Let’s have no more ignorant remarks about using Grandma’s skin for a leather couch. What is this? It’s all right to mistreat humans as long as we save the animals?
    According to Genesis 2, God gave man and woman rulership over the earth. In Genesis 8. God gave Noah animal meat for food, along with fruits and vegetables. God said we are to use the earth’s resources, mind you, not abuse them. So, if a coat made of fake something or other will keep you warm, and that’s what you can afford, that’s what you get.
    I’ve worn coats of all kinds, and where I live, it gets bloody cold!! Even my goose-down coat left me shivering. Fur keeps people warm; faux fur does not do as well. And, as a blind person, you can pet my hands or rub my face with any faux fur you want, and I’ll tell you it’s not the real thing.
    Tamara, you keep on enjoying that furry Heaven you sleep in every night. And don’t apologize for it.
    By the way, I’m serving notice now: If I can ever afford a fur, or someone gives me one as a present, and my beautiful, soft warm fur gets sprayed by any of you animal rights fanatics, I swear I’ll drag you and PETA into court!

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