J Lo keeps fur collection under her hat to prevent protests

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JENNIFER LOPEZ bagged the prestigious final slot of New York fashion week with her debut show, upsetting established designers. The singer then stirred controversy by presenting a collection of furs.

"Jennifer is a great lover of fur," said Charlie Ross, the US director of marketing for Saga, for which Lopez's Sweetface label was made. "Sweetface is a luxury label and Jennifer wanted her furs. She told me her favourite piece is a bleached silver fox coat with strips of the fox stitched on to a chiffon back."

There were also sheared mink coats cut into filigree lace patterns, a full ivory mink coat trimmed with fox on the collar and cuffs, fox-trimmed hoods, boas, capelets and fur straps on evening dresses.

The nature of the show was kept under wraps until the first model arrived, an essential precaution in a city where anti-fur activists showered the front row at Marc Jacobs with a bucket of maggots and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour was assaulted with a frozen raccoon.

The line will be stocked only in the Maximilian boutique in Bloomingdale's. They will not be found in Harvey Nichols, which has not stocked fur for 10 years. "Fur is a very important trend on the catwalks but our buyers are very good at buying around it," the store's press manager said.

Selfridges and Harrods do not stock fur either. A British fashion editor at the show, who asked not to be named, said: "I think it's bad enough that fur is so dominant in fashion this season. But when Jennifer Lopez endorses it she's telling the world that it's cool. If J Lo thinks it's cool, then so will the millions of kids who idolise her."

Britain's attitude to fur puts it in a minority, however; Europe, the US and the booming Russian market are all avid consumers.

And Lopez had her defenders. Rebecca Lowthorpe, of Elle, said: "A lot of celebrity endorsement is cynical. It's about putting your logo on to so-so bits of sportswear. But the inclusion of expensive furs in the collection suggests that Jennifer means business."

Mr Ross said Lopez had been fully involved. "Some designers were complaining that Jennifer was getting all the buzz. I have to tell you she is very hands-on. She leads a talented team."

Lopez already has a cheaper clothing line, Jlo by Jennifer Lopez, launched in 2001, with an annual turnover of more than pounds 100m.

Lopez said: "I'm obviously not at the level of a John Galliano. There is an art to what he does that I admire. But I do have a certain style that people respond to."

The prospects for the line look good. As well as her $16m-a-feature film career and consistent album sales, Lopez is the only celebrity to release a bankable perfume brand (Glow, Still and Miami Glow) since Liz Taylor's White Diamonds.