Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fur style’s sake
Fur coats come in a variety of cuts and sizes. Familiarising yourself with these choices is an excellent way to dazzle your companions and match your outerwear to different occasions,
writes Nilima Jani

Let us agree. Till the recent prosperity struck India’s upper middle class, the market for fur dress—especially that of the costly ermine/sable furs—was limited, as one could wear it only in the Himalayan hill resorts. But fur has always been considered the peculiar attribute of women, a feminine article, ranking with diamonds and point lace.

It was a fact that in the Raj days, our maharanis were great connoisseurs of fur ensembles, and maharani Sita Devi of Baroda was supposed to be having dozens of sable fur coats, one of the apparel being the fourth costliest in the world in 1947.

The world’s fur couture is a market of excess of 350 leading international designers working with fur in their collections. Recent international sales of fur garments reached a value of $ 12.770 billion (Rs 5000 crore). But in today’s India, animal protection leagues/associations with the leadership of Maneka Gandhi are trying their best to ensure that no animal is killed for fur.

We do have some shops in elite localities of our country (like Yashwant shopping centre of Delhi) where there are around five to seven shops selling either just fur, or just leather or mix of both. These shops are mainly for the high profile, rich tourists because this mall like small markets has well-made airconditioned shops which sell fur and leather-related goods, including coats and neck pieces, which do not have any brand name on them. The prices of these coats range from a mere Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 to a massive Rs 2 lakh. There are more expensive coats if the customer is really interested.

But with an estimated number of eight million Indians travelling to western countries and to free ports all over the world, if you want to buy a really good fur coat you can do so at a reasonable price at duty free shops in airports.

But ensure that, in whichever country you are buying your fur coat, the particular shop is authorised to sell these valuables by the International Fur Trade Federation, which acts to regulate commercial trade in products of threatened or endangered species. The receipt for this purchase will save your fur coat from confiscation in countries like USA and Switzerland, which are very strict about the embargo of fur dresses from banned sources.

Women’s fur coats come in a variety of cuts and sizes. Familiarising yourself with these choices is an excellent way to protect your pocket book, dazzle your companions and match your outerwear to different occasions. Sable-type fur coats are wearable in a host of circumstances. Persian lamb, broadtail and shearing coats tend to offer dark, neutral colours which provide universal appeal. Lynx, fox and mink fur tend to look better on blond and fair-skinned women. Chinchilla coats yield a bluish tinge, which need careful matching. Black mink coats and certain coats made from fox fur match a brunette look. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to get a fur coat that matches your body type and figure.

The most popular of all furs sold is the mink, which accounts for 70 per cent of the sales. A handsome mink robe can be bought silk-lined for about $700 (Rs 28,000) but this will not be of the very finest skins. For Russian ladies fur coats are what kanjeevarams are to our elite fair sex socialites, and in Russia you can get magnificent fur coats from $ 5000 to $ 50,000.

Taking care of fur coats is really a problem in tropical/rainy parts of India. Actually, in western countries, the affluent rent fur vaults like bank safe deposit vaults, specifically designed to protect the lasting quality of a fur garment, and offer temperature, humidity and light-controlled environments. Air exchange is carefully regulated with temperatures kept below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant humidity level of 50 per cent. No closet in your home can duplicate these conditions adequately.— MF