While we're on the subject of all things regal, my vote goes to Vivienne Westwood as the designer entrusted with a more animal-friendly redesign of the Queen's Guards' bearskin hats. The uniform of punk is just as much a part of London culture as the big, black furry headwear in question itself, after all. Witness the side-by-side appearance of both on souvenir postcard racks the capital over. What's more, Westwood has always been obsessed with British heritage – and the iconography of the Royal family in particular – as any amount of smart tartan crowns and hunting jacket red tailoring go to prove. Then there's the lady's sense of mischief to consider. Westwood may choose to bury some little gold pagan horns in her hats. The resolutely straight-faced military men in question always look like they could do with a little cheering up, and a touch of strategically placed and decidedly impish bling would doubtless do the trick. Lastly, Vivienne Westwood has always refused to use real fur.
If all this sounds like mere fashion whimsy, any hypothesising is based on fact. Last week Peta's campaign to persuade the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to use faux fur for soldiers' bearskin hats gathered momentum when the former gave its word that it would continue to search for a suitable substitute to the real McCoy. Peta has already approached Westwood – as well as Stella McCartney – for their advice and is also in talks with various design schools with this in mind. It's safe to say that the MoD might not reasonably be described as chomping at the bit though. It told Peta that "no one in the MoD, in or out of uniform, is opposed to faux fur" but asked the animal rights pressure group to end its campaign should the headwear in question be created out of existing stock, which is somewhat missing the point. "Millions of tourists who pour into London each year are being let down by the MoD's foot dragging," says Peta.
It is, however, we British who have a problem with the use of the real fur. In icy cold destinations the wearing of fur is ubiquitous. In France, Italy and, increasingly, the US fur is back on the catwalk safe in the knowledge that, despite economic downturn, the ultra-high end continues to boom. Witness Karl Lagerfeld's recent offering for Fendi as just one example. "Real gold on fur!" proclaimed M Lagerfeld of the 24-carat embellished skins.
The last word goes to Westwood. Isn't it better for "the little monkeys to wear their own skins" she once pondered. Surely even the most hard-hearted fauvist would be hard pushed to argue with that?Reuse content