Alexander Fury: Men in fur? It's more Liberace than Conan the Barbarian

Wear, what, why, when?

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

There's only one thing more contentious than the great fur debate: the great fur for him debate.

At his winter 2013 menswear presentation, Tom Ford showed no fewer than four mid-calf wild fox coats. It wasn't so much a comment on modern masculine luxury as simple economic savvy: the style is a runaway success at Ford's outposts in Russia. So he decided to do a few more. The Fendi, Marni and Roberto Cavalli collections were also smothered in fuzzy stuff.

It all sounds rather full-throttle. Which is the point. There's an unavoidable visibility to men in fur, a peacock sensibility that nevertheless exudes masculinity. Fur links you back to Ghengis Khan marauding through Mongolia, Henry VIII, wrapped in gingery fox for his Holbein portraits, to Fred Flintstone – or rather his real-life counterparts. Fur was the first prehistoric fabric, and the first status symbol. It's part of that hunter/gatherer male instinct.

But therein is part of the problem. We're not cavemen any more, and there's something that comes across as a bit barbarian to a bloke decked out in layers of fox. Perhaps that's what designers are aiming at. But be warned: if it isn't Conan, fur is usually camp. Fellows in full-length fur give me a fashion flashback to Michael Douglas as Liberace in Behind the Candleabra (below), or Matt Damon as his toyboy cohort vomiting in a seedy sex shop.

That's part of the unavoidable issue with blokes in fur. Forgetting moral arguments, as fashion so often does, the fact remains that a woman slinking in mink and a bias-cut gown conjures up Hollywood's golden age. A man tosses the same coat over a tuxedo andlooks like a comedy mobster or a Seventies pimp.

It's a minefield, never mind PETA. Even the comparatively innocuous shearling coat has its dodgier adumbrations. Two words: Del Boy. Not King Henry.