Fur flies as Ferry takes to the catwalk for Burberry

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The Independent Online

Three Peta protesters disrupted the Burberry catwalk show last night in Milan as Otis Ferry, the pro-hunt campaigner, master of foxhounds and son of Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry, made a guest appearance as a model. Leaping onto the catwalk just as Ferry posed in front of photographers, the protesters held banners reading "Burberry Fur Shame".

Ferry, who himself burst into the House of Commons and lunged at the Prime Minister in 2004 while MPs were discussing a ban on hunting with dogs, continued his walk back up the catwalk as security guards, who seemed relatively unprepared for any protest, bundled the three women out a back entrance.

In fact, although there were snakeskin handbags aplenty here, there wasn't a scrap of fur in this show ­ if only because this was a spring/summer collection. But it seemed that the presence of Ferry, who also appears in the company's current advertising campaign alongside his father and Kate Moss, was the provocation.

Burberry has transformed itself in recent years from a dowdy rainwear company into an international luxury brand and this has included creating the costly fur and reptile-skin clothes and accessories that appeal to American and continental markets.

Fur protests occasionally occur at catwalk shows in Paris or London, but in the Italian fashion capital, where mink coats or fur-trimmed accessories are about as ubiquitous as the moped, they are rare.

Earlier in the day, fresh from the success of last week's Red charity extravaganza in London, Giorgio Armani showed a collection that demonstrated his independence from ­ some might say wilful indifference to ­ the rest of fashion.

While every other designer currently proposes thick-soled wedge shoes, Armani wants narrow heels. Where the prevailing in silhouette on other catwalks is loose and egg-shaped, Armani prefers a formal jacket with a nipped-in waist, worn with silk palazzo pants in nude or midnight blue.

And because he is the most powerful independent designer in fashion, he does exactly as he pleases.

Earlier this month his company released financial results for 2005 that showed a 22.7 per cent leap in profits, thanks to what he calls a " multibrand approach". That is, branding everything from t-shirts to custom-made couture gowns with the Armani name.

"The quintessence of Armani taste" was how the he described this show, held at his purpose-built catwalk theatre designed by the architect Tadao Ando and watched on by Leonardo Di Caprio and Luis Figo.

And from the projections on the backdrop of the minimalist interior of his own home ­ which can be recreated, of course, with purchases from his homeware line Armani Casa ­ to the characteristic neutral greys and beige colours of his pyjama-style suits, worn with crumpled fedora hats, he stuck to familiar territory.

Finishing the show with a procession of 30 models in floor-length 1930s-style gowns smothered with silver bugle beads, he also staked his claim to the red carpet. Thankfully, though, the enormous black television-aerial style hats that the models wore in this finale is something that could only occur in Armani's world, not Hollywood.

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