I was watching a 1940’s detective movie the other night and in one scene a beautiful woman is sporting a mink stole. Rather than the just-fur model that was so prevalent, this one, upon closer examination, also included each animal’s head, feet, and tail too. Three of the critters sewn together so they hung around the actress’s neck, the feet and tail dangling below the body.
Wow. What a look. Then it came back to me. I remembered some of my mother’s friends in the 1950’s wearing these legged beauties to church each Sunday. My mother didn’t only because our family was too poor to afford furs. We were wool wearers.
So after the movie I started thinking about fur stoles with all the attachments and wondering what were these women thinking? What led them to the conclusion that the addition of a head with glass eyes, four feet, and a tail would embellish, not detract from, just the fur? That it was attractive? Provocative yes, spooky yes, attractive no.
Who was the bizarro fashion designer who first came up this concept in the 1920’s and was able to sell it ultimately to furriers and department stores across the country? The conversation in the first design firm must have gone something like this.
Designer: “Hey, Boss I’ve been thinking, if we were to leave the heads, tails, and four feet on these creatures, you know, ship the furs with these body parts still attached, we would have less to dispose of here at the shop. Our refuse bill would go down. We could call it … what’s that word … recycling. And we could promote it as the buyer having a pet-like animal around her neck all winter long. A fury friend she could stroke and look in the eye. Much more lovable than just a plain hunk of fur. What do you think?”
The Boss “I like it. Reduce our expenses and create a whole new look. You’re a genius. Let me think … yes, we could peddle each as ‘The perfect pet: no feeding, grooming or vet bills. And it’s always there for you’.”
Designer: “Right on the money, Chief. Forget about dogs and cats, these beauties will take the country by storm.”
The Boss: “Did you say dogs and cats? No, never mind.”
And so it went. My belief is it started to all wind down when enough women had put their hands in the closet to grab a coat and came up with a paw instead. Creepy.