Fur-Filled Show Likely to Ruffle Feathers
NEW YORK — Expect fur to fly at the newest exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Museum officials are braced for controversy over "Wild: Fashion Untamed," an exhibit of fashion's use of fur and feathers that opens this week with such graphic items as a jaguar's head purse and a hat adorned with stuffed parakeets.
The exhibit looks at animalism and concepts of femininity, sexual fetishes, seduction, excess, coquetry and class standing, Bolton said.
"It's been with us since the beginning of couture," curator Andrew Bolton said Monday.
Despite all the show's skins and skulls, the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals opted against its well-known protest tactics like throwing animal blood and instead worked with the museum to help promote its message.
"It very much signals a change in the way we trying to change fashion from within the industry rather than from the outside, said PETA spokesman Michael McGraw.
Organized opposition to the use of animals dates as far back as 14th century sumptuary laws that restricted forms of dress to curb extravagance and preserve class distinctions, Bolton said.
"Just by the emotive nature of the use of these materials, it's always been controversial," he said.
The last decade has seen an upsurge in part due to the hip-hop movement that broadened fur's appeal among younger wearers, he said.
Among the show's most arresting items are a crocodile head piece and jaguar coat by design house Christian Dior, knotted leather skins by Jean Paul Gaultier, a pink ostrich dress by Roberto Cavalli, who sponsored the exhibit, and a Prada dress for next spring made of peacock feathers.
The pelts and plumage are bound to stir reaction, PETA said.
"We're hoping that by presenting both sides of the issue people will come away from the exhibit realizing sensibilities have changed in modern times and there's no reason to continue wearing fur and other animal skins," he said.
The exhibit opened Tuesday and runs through March 13, 2005.