A confession we are all guilty off. Fashion people and animal rights advocates have never been friends. Though there is an increasing tolerance and restrain among designers and luxury brands not to slaughter (for a lack of a better term) animals for “hedonistic” use we must all admit the use of said materials can make the most luxurious and divine of garments.
Case in point the most expensive bag offered by Hermes, a $432,000 Albino Himalayan Crocodile with features 18-karat white gold hardware and embedded with 40 white round brilliant diamonds, amounting to 1.64 carats. Sounds heavenly right? Try telling that to PETA! They consider that a nightmare.
But whatever your stance is, here are some more couture details acquired through the most appalling of ways that makes you exclaim vestidos sonia pena. Whether that is an exclamation point or a question mark is up to you.
- Ostrich Feathers
Seen from the most head-turning couture shows in New York or Paris, ostrich feathers always make a dress more opulent, sexy and fierce. A fierce substitute to fringe, its fluffy and flowy appearance makes gowns and dresses seem cloud-like. A material turned or sewed into skirts, dresses (usually on the hem), gowns, boleros, shawls, jackets and even jewelry may look jaw-dropping to look at but it’s extraction origins make you think twice about it.
Not sustainable and cruelty-free animal rights groups, vegans, and nature advocates are running campaign after campaign to end the slaughter of ostrich because of feather harvesting. There are two main ways to harvest feathers, you either use an automatic plucking machine or you remove it from a live bird, both are not a good sight to see to say the least.
Elie Saab, Givenchy, Zuhair Murad, Valentino, Chanel these are some top names in couture that can’t present a show without pearls being a feature, meticulous cut and draped gowns adorned and embellished with hundreds if not thousands of pearls. And don’t make me start with the jewelers famed for producing the most elaborate of pieces with the likes of Dior Joaillerie and Van Cleef & Arpels. However how the pearls are harvested takes a different turn of events.
Pearls are formed when an irritant or parasite enters the shell of an oyster, and in an act of self-defense the oyster will coat the intruder with nacre, the substance that gives the pearls their bright sheen. What makes is debatable though is the unethical practice of cultivators by artificially prying them open and putting in irritants to speed up the process and keep up with demands.
The devil is in the details they say but when the detail is small and intricate designers usually go to mink. Mink is a substitute to fur when you won’t go all out as it less costly to acquire and produce. Usually seen as sleeve details, collars and hood trims of some jackets, mink details inject that luxurious camping vibe reminiscent of spending Christmas on the Swiss Alps during the 50’s.
However the way it is harvested is not a picturesque tale. Minks are usually poisoned, being sprayed unconscious and even electrocuted with rods forced into their anuses and mouths. Not as glamorous as you think huh?