Designers elevate fur to new heights for Haute Couture AW16

Fur is arguably the ultimate material to fuse the natural and the hyper-luxurious, and with designers exploring themes around nature and opulence during this week’s haute couture shows, it was hardly surprising that mink and fox from Saga Furs took centre stage in many collections. And fur’s sustainable, long-lasting qualities certainly make it perfect in a time when we increasingly think about the footprint we are leaving on Earth.

Jean Paul Gaultier heard the call of the wild, building his entire collection around forests and wood. A standout piece was a Finnraccoon and mink coat patched together in golden wood hues that had a wild, natural expression. Models wore statement fox hoods in dyed black fox and the classic orange lumberjack puffer gilet came in softest dyed fox.

Alexandre Vauthier also explored the dialogue between untamed beauty and extreme glamour in longhaired pieces. A full Gold Fox coat worn with over-the-knee nude suede boots would thrill Dynasty’s Krystle Carrington and Rihanna equally. Vauthier’s opening look was also fur: an army green utilitarian jacket lined with sumptuous black Finnraccoon.

Ermine – historically the undisputed fur of choice for royalty – was beautifully re-interpreted in Valentino’s Elizabethan-inspired collection using glossy white mink. Instead of the ermine’s black-tipped tail, dainty black feathers hung from the fur. Dior also favoured black and white with an intarsia sleeveless mink top embellished with dangling pearl embroidery that from afar created a drip-paint effect before you saw the craftsmanship up close.

Another designer wanting to reconnect with nature was Ulyana Sergeenko, who had looked at 1960s woodland needlework and translated it into sheared mink intarsia coats with nostalgic nature scenes complete with grazing deer and sleeves featuring raised braided mink detailing. An intarsia fox coat in bright colours called to mind a flower meadow, and the rural, homespun vibe was complemented by a cable knit sweater elevated fully in sheared mink. Nature and glamour also intertwined in a frosted brown mink cape with a wide fox lapel.

For a fur house like J Mendel, couture is where Gilles Mendel really gets to play with fur techniques. The opening looks were made up of little tiles of sheared fur seemingly suspended in air on invisible chiffon or forming Keith Haring-inspired swirls dotted with tiny crystals. Fox coats with extra long sleeves were crafted with an inner ‘corset’ structure to hang seductively off the shoulder for the ultimate in extravagant evening glamour and held together with dainty lingerie-like buttons, like a gold-plated dyed black fox version.