Joshua Capulet met up with fashion student Mark Williams to discuss his final collection as he investigates the bloody but beautiful side to fashion.

Goat, mink and of course, his beloved vivid red fox. No fur is off-limits for self-proclaimed animal lover Mark Williams, the Kingston fashion student set to showcase his passion for luxury in a fur-based final collection.

Mark is using the fur to add a dramatic dimension to his collection, which is inspired by 1940s philosopher and expressionist artist Francis Bacon. He is hoping that the controversial decision to use mink, goat and fox fur among others will add excessive volume to his garments creating movement and luxury.

 “Although I love what I’m doing, obviously I’d jump at the chance to work with say, Stella McCartney, who’s fiercely anti-fur,” said Mark, who respects the opinion of his opposers but questions their reasoning and the negative attitude of British society towards fur.

 It is Mark’s background, he says, that has formed his views. As he delves into detail about his childhood it becomes apparent that he has always enjoyed fox hunting with his father in a country lifestyle which has led him to views which some activists may consider cruel.

‘City dwellers see these animals as pets. They are so wrapped up in cotton wool. They just can’t deal with life and death. It’s horrendous. I think people’s opinions in Britain about fur are quite narrow-minded. Anti-fur protestors revolve around Asia. I get my fur from Europe and the farms are regulated by the British Fur Trade Association.’

Mark Williams poses with his fur fox

Any Kings Road shopper will be aware of the violence that is occasionally executed by anti-fur protestors. Red paint is thrown and garments are destroyed. However Mark’s fur is from origin-assured fur factories in Europe, a far cry from the notorious propaganda which focuses almost exclusively on the Asian fur market. 

During the 1990s, fur was discredited as the ugly face of fashion. The ‘bloody fashion industry’ took a hit as super models bared all in a protest against wearing the skin of an animal. Yet fur is fighting back. In the last 10 years designers have manipulated the fabric into a form of aesthetic beauty from fox to seal, mink to leopard. 

Sandra Smiley from the PETA goes on to argue the case that the fur industry’s “Origin Assured” (OA) label is a shameless attempt to make consumers feel good about buying an inherently cruel product. ‘Despite the fur industry’s desperate attempts to dupe consumers into believing otherwise, the only humane fur is faux fur – Every real fur coat and every bit of fur trim means misery and death for animals, whether they were raised in Europe or elsewhere.’

 Project Catwalk winner and bespoke fur designer Jasper Garvida, explained the benefits of real fur over synthetic. ‘Real fur has a purpose, it keeps the body warm and is a natural product that last for decades. Synthetic fur creates the look of real fur and is a man-made product that is not bio – degradable.’

Mark’s goes a step further saying that the use of faux fur is in fact hypocritical and detrimental to the cause of animal rights.

 “It’s an odd society we live in. Faux fur buys into the aesthetic of wearing a dead animal just as much as real fur, it just uses synthetic replicas to achieve it,” he said.

 Fondly stoking the head of the fox piece he had perched on his lap he laughed nervously at the idea of experimenting with alternative furs but discredits the use of seal as well as the idea of using cat or dog fur in his work, but admits he adores working with fox. “To be honest, I don’t think I’d rule anything out. As long as I’m working with fur – I’m happy.”

 

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