London's Evening Standard this evening contains an article entitled "Why Stella and I won't wear fur" by Mary Mccartney Donald. In the article, Mary writes:I'm vegetarian, I don't wear leather and I wouldn't dream of wearing fur, so when Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) asked me to shoot the poster for their new campaign, I jumped at the opportunity. (see November 12)For more information visit petauk.org or to see the video, narrated by Stella McCartney, visit furisdead.com
Over the past year or so, it has suddenly become fashionable to wear fur again - it's back on the catwalks, worn to film premieres by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry, and to parties by Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl. When I heard that the big American fur company, Blackglama, had hired Gisele for its new advertising campaign, I was disappointed. She was paid £320,000 and given two mink coats for her services.
Of course I understand why people are attracted to fur: Gisele looks gorgeous in her mink coat - it's soft, warm and luxurious. But I'd rather see it on the animal still walking around. And of course we all know how influential photographs of celebrities in cool clothes are - you see a picture of a model in a denim jacket and the next day it sells out. We felt we had to remind people where fur actually comes from, how ugly and disgusting it really is. The people from Peta got hold of a dead fox (not difficult in the English countryside) and brought it to the studio. The smell was appalling and, as someone who never has meat in the house, it was stomach churning.
Sophie Ellis Bextor was brilliant, so ballsy - she had to stand there holding this poor dead animal by its paws for an hour while I took her picture. I hope the image will make people stop and think - that even if you are wearing a parka with a rabbit-fur trim, then somewhere there is a bloody, steaming carcass left behind.
Both Stella and I were brought up by our parents, Paul and Linda, to respect animals. Our mum always said that the hardest thing you can do is to be kind and encouraged us always to think about how our lives affect others. Our parents didn't push their beliefs down our throats - it was just natural to be around animals and not to eat meat or wear leather. Plus, mum was a great cook - we were never tempted to go out and eat a burger or whatever. My children are still too young to be able to make up their own minds, but I hope they will grow up to love animals as we do.
If young people were more aware of how fur is produced, perhaps they would change their minds. The animals are often kept in appalling, cramped, dark conditions and they are then killed by being electrocuted anally, to avoid damaging the pelt.
Stella narrates the Peta video showing the way these animals are farmed and slaughtered; I found it almost too sickening to watch.
The fashion industry is very difficult to challenge or change, and it's rare for someone who actually works in the business to make a stand. There is so much fur on the catwalk and it is rare for someone to be brave enough to criticise it.
I really admire my sister for refusing to use any animal products in her collections, and I have to say she has never once wavered, even though she could make a lot more money making leather shoes and bags. She has just produced a collection of "vegetarian" shoes and accessories - made from fabric - which will certainly make my life easier: lovely, strappy sandals not made from leather are extremely hard to come by.
I refuse to photograph leather and fur, so of course I am limiting my options when it comes to getting work, but it's not impossible. I see it as a challenge.
I would never advocate throwing paint over a designer during his catwalk show, or placing a dead raccoon on Anna Wintour's plate (the British-born editor of American Vogue even threw a party to celebrate Gisele's new fur campaign), but if I saw Kate Moss at a party wearing her silver fox-fur cape, I'd comment on it.
I wouldn't be aggressive, but I couldn't let it go. But I do believe that the best way to change people's attitudes is to have young, cool, stylish people like Sophie Ellis Bextor, Sadie Frost and Jude Law speaking out against fur.
I think we have become too far removed from the reality of what we are eating and wearing. We are now so used to going to the supermarket, where meat comes in palatable chunks wrapped in clingfilm, that if we walked into an old fashioned butcher's we would be so repulsed by the sight and the smell that we might think seriously about what we are putting in our mouths.
I hope that this photograph will make people think twice about what they put on their backs. I know that I will never forget the stench of that dead fox for a very long time.
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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