Without any doubt, a fur coat is a garment that always remains outside of time and fashion. It has a fairly long history of existence. And although the design and forms, types, and methods of processing fur have changed, nevertheless, a fur coat from ancient to the present is an invariable part of the wardrobe of all fashionistas.
The ancient times
Even in ancient times, fur was one of the main items of clothing. However, its use was based more on practical purposes: it protected people from severe cold. Moreover, some tribes simply could not survive without fur. Meanwhile, the ancient people did not possess the technology of processing and sewing fur pelts. They just put them over the shoulders and head. Additionally, do not overlook the fact that then the fur had also a spiritual purpose.
For example, early humans believed that the kind of fur they wear gave them a certain power.
Early civilizations, antiquity
With the rise of the first civilizations, society was divided into social classes. Accordingly, the fur acquired a different meaning and moved away from the original practical goals. So even at that time, the fur type indicated the social status of its owner. For example, in ancient Egypt, only the king could wear the pelt of a lion or leopard.
It is interesting to note that in Kievan Rus’ fur was instead of money and was even used to collect in the national treasury. The fur of the polar bear was considered the most expensive.
And in ancient Rome, legionnaires-standard-bearers decorated their helmets with pelts of lions and bears.
Moreover, with the development of trade, the fur industry has become one of the main sources of income.
In general, in the Middle Ages, fur completely became a symbol of wealth and luxury. Moreover, even were special laws that allowed wearing fur only certain social classes.
In Europe, mink, ermine, and sable were exclusively for the royal nobility. Meanwhile, the furs of beavers, foxes, hares, and squirrels were intended for the middle class.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the demand for real fur coats grew more. Even the emergence of special fur farms shows this. Furthermore, it became fashionable to wear various hats, dresses, coats, accessories with fur trim. Even the top hat (the most popular item of men’s clothing), was often made of the fur of the beaver.
Men of that time tended to wear buffalo and beaver fur coats. While women preferred furs of sable and seal.
By the way, it was seal fur that was the first to be worn on the outside.
In conclusion, the French fashion house Paquin was established in late 1891, which has become the trendsetter of fur fashion.
The twentieth century is the dawn of the fur industry. Revolution, technological progress significantly influenced this. During this period, fur became more affordable. In addition, due to the increasing popularity, designers began to create a wide variety of fur garments for every taste and preference. Moreover, short fur coats also entered the fashion industry. Hence, fur became the main attribute of fashion. This is evidenced by a piece from one of the Vogue articles:
“Go without jewels, pocket money, or every-day clothes, Vogue advises, but never try to scrimp on fur. For the fur you wear will reveal to everyone the kind of woman you are and the kind of life you lead.”
During the jazz years, wild monkey fur was at the height of fashion. Nevertheless, mink, raccoon, seal, beaver, sable, chinchilla were also in demand. Furthermore, cheap rabbit fur was dyed in different colors, creating imitations of fox or seal furs.
Also, during this period, fur products had large detachable fur collars and were distinguished by curved shapes. Even fashionistas of that time wore fur scarves, capelets, muffs, stoles.
Fur and cinematography
First of all, with the development of cinematography, fur became even more popular. For example, Marlene Dietrich introduced fox fur, while Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo preferred fur capelets. By the way, and Merlin Monroe was famous for her special love for fur garments.
It should be noted that in the 1970s there were various anti-real fur organizations. After all, the production of natural fur was the reason for the disappearance of rare species of animals.
Consequently, this influenced the emergence of international and national laws regulating fur production: the International Trade Convention, Endangered Species Act (1973) in the USA.
However, it didn’t end there. In the 1980s and 1990s, animal welfare organizations led a series of anti-fur protests. It forced many famous designers and fashion houses to abandon using real fur in their collections, replacing it with faux fur. Besides, many popular models (including Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell) took part in the campaign with the slogan “I’d rather be naked than wear fur.”
The 21st century is a period of contrast and incredible technological capabilities. And fashion is no exception. Methods of processing and dyeing fur are changing.
Regarding natural fur, the opinions of the trendsetters were divided. Many well-known brands such as Gucci, Michael Kors, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney do not use it in their collections. On the other hand, Hermes, Chanel, and Dior continue to create products from real fur. First of all, this is due to the demand for it and some of its advantages.
Nevertheless, one of the main features of the XXI century fur fashion is comfort, versatility, and environmental friendliness.