Fashion has always flirted with fetishism. Take La Vénus à la fur, a little erotic novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, or the “Fetish” exhibition around the shoe as an obsessive object in 2007 at the Cartier Foundation by the filmmaker David Lynch and the shoe designer Christian Louboutin, as examples of how shapes and materials can ignite minds.
While the erotic power of leather and fur is a given, these two materials are on the decline in the face of protests over how animals suffer in their production. Fur is taboo, and if Kering has banned it from its collections, some magazines, like Elle, have also decided not to show it anymore. This calls into question the attractiveness of these two materials: what is their secret, and how do we replace them?
The emblem of courage
Let us put aside the suffering that their use ensures. Fur and leather are literally prehistoric materials that humanity, at its dawn, borrowed from animals to dress itself. In this respect – and we have never ceased to marvel at it – for the human species nudity has always been an extraordinary stimulus for creativity. Closer to home, fur has been, from the great age of Hollywood to the present day, the most obvious outward sign of wealth, always associated with fine jewelry. Leather, first reserved for men, especially fighter pilots, whose jackets were the emblems of courage, began to infiltrate women’s locker rooms of the 1960s in force, where designers like Pierre Cardin and Courrèges hijacked it, adapted it, colored, varnished and laced it with metal to create an optimistic and geometric futurism.