European Menswear Designers Are Pushing Fur for Fall 2016
On my last night in Milan during the menswear collections, I was enjoying a dinner of fresh linguini at Paper Moon, a trattoria in the famed fashion-district Via Monte Napoleone, when I noticed a recurring trend among the (mostly older) lady patrons: fur coats. My dining mate and I had a prime people-watching table near the front of the restaurant and at one point during our meal, we counted 15 over-fluffed minks either entering or exiting the popular spot. Fifteen!
I’ve never seen anything like it: such a casual converging of so many provocative, statement-making outerwear pieces—despite residing for some 13 years in another fashion capital, New York. Not in the wild, at least, on mere fashion civilians. (If you consider ritzy Italian women who wear head-to-toe Prada such a thing.)
The runways of London, Milan, Paris—and yes, even New York—are another story.
Despite being the most polarizing of trends, fur is a near-constant presence in the most luxurious womenswear collections. According to the Fur Information Council of America, 73 percent of designers who showed in these four fashion capitals included fur in their collections in 2015.
But in a twist on the typical notion that fur is purely for women, it's menswear designers who are really pushing fur, full-force, for next season.
Currently, men's fur fashion accounts for nearly 5 percent of total fur sales. If the current crop of runway looks from the likes of Christopher Bailey at Burberry and the iconic Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana are any indication, that statistic is certainly set to rise.
“The reason it’s so popular on the runway, especially right now, is that it’s dramatic,” said Nick Wooster, menswear fashion consultant and street-style icon. “And I think with all this talk of blurred gender roles, why not splash out, and try something different? I think it seems easier for a ‘guy’ to understand the presence of fur rather than a skirt."
Wooster said that when he thinks about fur on men, he’s reminded of the Ivy League gents from the early 20th century in full-length raccoon coats. But, he said, “luckily we’ve moved on from that.” (Editor's note: these gents continue to exist.) For today’s man, Wooster thinks designers have, at long last figured out ways to make fur more attractive to men—by using restraint.
"I think Yves Salomon [a Parisian clothing label known for its bold use of fur] really paved the way for the current fur mania by combining the military parka with a fur lining and collar," said Wooster. "That has become the most digestible use of fur."
At Burberry, Bailey added a sporty twist to the usually decadent, uptown look of mink and fox furs by layering it on top of boldly-hued, retro track jackets. And Dutch designer Dries Van Noten, who delighted guests in Paris with a highly acclaimed psychedelic fashion journey at the Opera Garnier, used fur in a "very elegant and cool way" according to Wooster—as pure ornamentation for his sublime army-inspired outerwear.
Not every label took the less-conspicuous approach.
Coach showcased its "version of fur" with reversed shearling coats—some even reminiscent of the unintentional fur icon Fozzie Bear from The Muppet Show. Unruly, brown fur has, in fact, become a mega-trend, having also been shown by designers such as Dolce & Gabbana and Loewe, among others. And Fendi gents sported a bright-yellow, oversized furry tote (and sunglasses croakies) with their equally-shaggy ready-to-wear.
"If you're super rugged, or with the right amount of swagger and confidence, you can for sure pull off that look," said Alan Maleh, founder and publisher of Man of the World. Like Wooster, he thinks that unless you have an almost Kanye West-type personality (read: overly confident), moderation is best. Both men suggest sticking to smaller accents such as a fur trim accessory or lining—like Van Noten's aforementioned coats, or Gucci's fur-lined loafers that were back for another season—before committing to Joe Namath-level fuzziness.
Nic Screws is the style director at Bloomberg and will be reporting all month from the runways of Europe. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter or e-mail her any of your fashion concerns or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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