American celebrities are queueing up to express their outrage at Anna Wintour, the British-born editor-in-chief of US Vogue magazine, for her unashamed championing of women's right to wear fur.
Weeks after a protester spoiled Ms Wintour's lunch by hurling a dead racoon onto her table in a smart New York restaurant, she has received a letter signed by Kim Basinger, Sarah Bernhard, Cheers star Woody Harrelson and a host of other celebs, urging her to throw out her furs and scrap them from the magazine.
Their letter declares: "We believe there's nothing fashionable about killing animals for a luxury product. For their fur, animals are gassed, electrocuted, drowned and strangled. We ask that Vogue become more animal- friendly by agreeing to end its insensitive promotion of fur." Other signatories include the actor Alec Baldwin, supermodel and Vogue covergirl, Tatjana Patitz, and stars of Saturday Night Live and Beverly Hills 90210.
The letter follows her editorial in the magazine declaring that this winter smart women would be sporting fur. "This is the moment for me to confess that, yes, I wear fur. I also eat juicy steaks," she wrote. A recipe which recommended using horse lard to cook tastier French fries did not endear her to animal lovers, either. The row has delighted her numerous critics, who call her "Nuclear Wintour" because of her icy manner.
The letter was organised by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). Many of the signatures were gathered at its recent $350- a-plate fundraiser in Los Angeles. In a separate move, top agency Boss Models, has urged its clients to walk out of shoots and shows if they are asked to wear fur.
It was before Christmas, when Ms Wintour was dining at New York's select Four Seasons, that a woman appeared at her table and loudly berated her as a "fur hag", before throwing a racoon carcass on to her plate.
Last week, exclusively, we tracked down the "Racoon Girl"in America. "A friend found the racoon, frozen in a trash heap outside a fur farm," she said. "I kept it in cold storage. There are many people at Conde Nast and Vogue who wanted to help me, and I soon got a call telling me she was going to be at the Four Seasons.
"I dressed up nice and stylish and put the racoon in a shopping bag from a smart store. I told the waiter I wanted to join Anna Wintour's table, and he took me over to where she was eating with another woman and two men.
"I shouted 'This is for the animals, shame on you, you're a fur hag!' then I threw the racoon and it landed right on her plate. Its little beady eyes were staring up at her. She looked very shocked. In the confusion I was able to walk out and hail a taxi. It was great."
Peta's Dan Mathews said yesterday: "Ms Wintour relies on the whims of her A-list pals, so it will be interesting to see how she responds to this letter."
Ms Wintour was unavailable for comment, but a spokeswoman insisted: "We will continue to support fur by receiving advertising and in our editorial."
There are no signs that Ms Wintour intends to give in. But other fashion editors, here and in the US, back Peta. "There's no magazine in the UK with such a bad record as US Vogue," Toni Vernelli, Peta's UK representative, said. But Peta does have its eye on lingerie designer Janet Reger, who has said on television how much she likes wearing fur. "We have been planning to target fashion shows that use her products - we're thinking of throwing knickers daubed with bloody slogans," said Ms Vernelli.
Ms Reger is on holiday in India, but her daughter Alica Reger, who runs the famous shop, said: "I find this sort of thing quite fascist. You should have freedom of choice. The whole thing has been completely twisted by an unruly, squalid mob of losers."
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