Dead or Alive


Two years ago Kim Kardashian was flour bombed on the red carpet for wearing fur. And last month an American bride dragged her one-month-old daughter down the aisle attached to the train of her wedding dress. LAUREN WISZNIEWSKI explores the use of animals, alive or dead, for fashion. 

Fur, one of the oldest forms of fashion, is surrounded with controversy. Last year fashion designer and outspoken animal rights activist Stella McCartney refused to include any kind of fur in her collections. Similarly, after PETA footage revealed the shocking conditions of angora rabbit factory farms in China, chains H & M, Espirit, C & A, and New Look, halted production of angora products.

But in a society where Macklemore wears a “big ass (fur) coat” and Lady Gaga dons a meat dress, animal supporters seem to be fighting a losing battle.  Common animals sourced for fur clothing include fox, rabbit, mink, beaver, stoat, otter, sable, seal, cats, dogs, coyotes and possum. However who can ignore the luxurious feel of fur? If the animal is already dead, then what’s the harm?

Britney Spears proved once upon a time by accessorizing with a live snake at the MTV awards, animals add a little bit extra to your outfit. A living animal can be just as glamorous as a dead one. In 2013, a graduate fashion show from world-renowned school Central Saint Martins, featured goldfish handbags. The school, which counts Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney among its graduates, applauded the designer, Cassandra Verity Green. The goldfish bowl shaped bags, containing real fish grabbed the attention of the audience and the wrath of the RSPCA who claimed that fashion like this “encourages people to see them [animals] as replaceable ornaments, rather than living creatures in need of care and commitment.”

More recently in China, live animals trapped in plastic bags are being sold as key chains. Like puppies in a tiny pet store cage, these animals are confined to a horribly small place. A place so small that these turtles, fish, lizards and other amphibians die due to oxygen deprivation. While the vendors who sell these bags claims that the bags contain crystallized oxygen and nutrients designed to keep the animals alive, most die within a day.

Last month, bride Shona Carter-Brooks attached her daughter to the train of her wedding dress and walked down the aisle. Humans are a definite step up from goldfish and lizards yet Mrs Carter-Brooks claims the child was “covered by Christ”. Maybe we should all be covered by Christ until we sort out where the line is on wearing animals and animal products.