2020

FUR AND EXOTIC ANIMAL MATERIALS: A MODEL FOR LUXURY NON-ANIMAL EMBELLISHMENT
Article in the Journal of Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption.

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Figure 2. Adapted wig making with embroidery 1. Photo: author.

ABSTRACT

Fur and exotic animal materials are appealing resources in the creation of fashion embellishment. This article focuses on the design values of fur, feathers and exotic skins as luxury decoration and suggests alternative non-animal approaches to embellishment which could be adopted by designers. The development of alternative embellishment samples utilizes unusual non-animal materials and experimental textile embellishment techniques through a process of reflective practice. Alternative materials and processes are inspired by the decorative appeal of fur and exotic animal materials, partly identified through engagement with industries associated with the application of fur and exotic animal materials. This article thereby explores the themes of: Rarity, connection to nature, craftsmanship and textural quality. Practice developments of two novel textile embellishment techniques that predominantly use glass yarn are presented: “Adapted wig-making with embroidery” and “threading rubber.” This constitutes a range of textile samples and an embellished garment exhibited in Fashioned from Nature at the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) and associated world tour (2018–2021). The research derives from a personal motivation concerning the use of animal materials in fashion, as well as from prior experience working in luxury fashion houses where animal materials were used as decoration.