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Fur divides Paris fashion world

PARIS (Reuters) - Either love it or hate it -- fur is dividing the Paris fashion scene this season.

Big labels such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Valentino or Christian Lacroix celebrated the return of fur with a selection of trimmed coats this week, winning praise from luxury brands.

“There has always been fur,” Gaultier said, after rapturous applause for a long coat combing fur segments with tartan.

“It’s not a return but a continuation of fur. I’m always proposing it. Fur is a material that has not been replaced for the moment,” Gaultier said at his Paris fashion week show.

But other designers say women who wear mink, fox or sable coats have animals’ suffering on their conscience, supporting the arguments of naked animal rights activists who tried to disrupt some fur-heavy shows this week.

“I totally disagree with any electrocuted animals on people’s backs,” Britain’s Stella McCartney told reporters after her fur-free ready-to-wear show on Thursday, in which she presented floating woolen cardigans and cashmere tops.

Her collection of knitted overalls and big-hooded anoraks worn with mini skirts struck a contrast to the range of fur-collared coats Lacroix and Valentino presented on Wednesday.

A Peta (People for Ethical Treatment for Animals) anti-fur demonstrator storms the catwalk with a banner during French designer Christian Lacroix's Autumn/Winter 2007/08 ready-to-wear fashion collection in Paris February 28, 2007. Big labels such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Valentino or Christian Lacroix celebrated the return of fur with a selection of trimmed coats this week, winning praise from luxury brands. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

A naked protester jumped onto Lacroix’s catwalk, showing her back with the crossed out word “fur” on it to photographers before being dragged away by security guards. Protesters had also tried to interrupt Valentino’s show earlier.

ALTERNATIVES

McCartney, the daughter of former Beatle Paul, said there were enough alternatives to fur.

“We have everything. We’re using a lots of taffetas and satins and we have a lot of knitwear ... a lot of cashmere,” said the designer, who has just launched an organic skincare line.

McCartney paraded out models in pink catsuits and short silk dresses, as fur-clad fashion editors in the front-row looked on.

McCartney’s pelt-loving colleagues make no secret of their admiration for animal skin, and retailers say it sells well.

“(Fur) is a luxury material and I know our customers will love it,” Linda Fargo, senior vice president for the fashion office at luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman, told Reuters at Valentino’s show.

“There was a bit of a trend which started in New York. we definitely saw it in Milan and we’re seeing it here in Paris as well,” she said about fur’s comeback to runways.

Designer Riccardo Tisci rolled out slim coats with protruding fur collars in his collection for Givenchy late on Wednesday, in which he also showed a range of asymmetric black dresses for the house that dressed Audrey Hepburn.

Lacroix seemed unfazed by the protests at his show.

“I’m no hypocrite. I love fur,” he said.

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