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Tim Gunn and me

November 23, 2009 |  1:00 pm

Tim-gunn-peta I had the loveliest chat not long ago with Tim Gunn, the heart and soul of "Project Runway." If you didn't see it originally, you can read it here.

Gunn occupies the role on "Project Runway" that the Queen of England holds constitutionally in her realm: to advise, to warn, to be consulted. It's a wonderful role, and an influential one, which is why I was all the more delighted with this part of my exchange with Gunn:

Do we have you to thank for the fact that there is no fur in the challenges?

Yes, thank you! I was called a fool when I was chair of fashion at Parsons and I invited PETA to speak to students. The industry went crazy. I said: "Wait a minute. The International Fur Trade Commission is coming here. I have a responsibility to bring another point of view, let the students decide." I would say if you're going to use fur, you have a responsibility to know its origins. At Liz Claiborne, every brand is now fur-free. A woman assaulted me verbally for my fur position. She said one of [her] favorite items is a mink coat, and that furthermore, it's sheared mink, so people wouldn't even know it's fur. I said: "Then you have even less of an excuse. Sheared fur looks like velvet. You could wear a velvet coat." I'm also not a great fan of faux fur that looks real -- I'd much rather have it look fake.

And yet every few seasons, including this one, you thumb through the fashion mags, and there's fur, fur, fur. PETA's chic, no-fur celebrity messages can't compete -- they can't afford to make the same splash that huge, rich fashion brands can, and it's the latter that drive buying habits. I won't say ''taste'' because it isn't tasteful.

There's no reason to kill animals for fur. Wearing fur is like wearing a big sign reading, ''I'm in favor of inflicting cruelty and pain on animals as a fashion statement.''  Unspeakable torture is inflicted on dogs, cats, bunnies, raccoons, foxes, minks and myriad trapped, helpless creatures in the name of fashion -- yes, dogs and cats.

Here's a PETA music video of what those dog and cat fur ''farms'' look like, and if you've gone shopping for fur or even thought of buying it, you have a moral obligation to watch. [Warning: There are images of animals being poorly treated:]

 And here is the video Gunn made with PETA on the matter. [Warning: It includes some graphic images of animals being poorly treated, killed and stripped of their fur:]

About 10 years ago, Burlington Coat Factory had to recall parkas trimmed in dog fur. A couple of years ago, the Humane Society asked the feds to penalize retailers and designers that mislabeled fur from dogs and wolves as something more, well, palatable. Donna Karan's pledged to go fur-free. How about you?

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Tim Gunn Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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