Forgive me PETA for I have sinned.
Who doesn't love the feeling of something soft and warm? When we see fur our reactions are often oh's and ah's because the symbolic fur garment reflects stature in wealth and elegance, so we are told through history. People have been wearing fur for thousands of years from Native Americans who use the hide skins for basic clothing and thick fur coats for protection from the winter climate to kings and queens for flaunting their wealth and high standing authority. Fur is a delicacy with a high price to pay but back then, people weren't worried about PETA or the treatment of animals. The construction of quality techniques, wide sleeves, enhanced shoulders, the blending and matching of skins and fine lining have always distinguished the difference between good and bad fur coats. Luxury fur coats are mostly made from mink and fox and to my surprise, the farming of mink accounts for 85% of the global fur trade to date. On the more affordable end you will commonly find beaver, raccoon and buffalo fur.
Vintage fur doesn't have much value unless it comes with the name of a brand still on the market. We found this coat in a small shop in Italy, well in-tacked, with the price tag of $30 assuming it was not real. After bringing it home and having serious thought this could in fact be of real fur, I did what I could to examine it without deconstructing it. The lining by appearance is old with faded color and worn out seams. A ribbon finish on the interior construction tells me this coat was made with time, more money and more effort to ensure long lasting wear. The more constructive detail in a garment is often a huge indicator of its worth and quality. In all clothing you will find a "care tag" full of information from fiber content, where the garment was made and how to care for it. This tag was put in place in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission, an act by the United States. I hoped this coat would have one to help tell me if I was holding something real or synthetic, sadly no such tag is in this coat. Clearly this fur coat has age. Next, I looked into the brand name, R. Liegeois. The only information I was able to find on this brand was it came from France in the 1940's. Okay, now this has to be real, right? When hair is burnt it has a very distinguishing smell so I did a burn test, I pulled a few fibers out and lit it on fire. I still couldn't tell if this was real, so I gave up on my search.
This past December I made a small collection of mens lingerie that was featured in a collaborative art exhibit. During my presentation, I used this coat on a model to signify the wealth and elegance my collection inspired me by. As the party went on I noticed the coat literally falling apart, the shoulder seam was the first to go. Now, I had access to the inside and there is no doubt what I saw was hide. IT'S REAL! But the type of animal this was made from was unclear. By the end of the night I thought we completely destroyed it. The fur was now separating, I could count how many pieces of small beaver (assuming beaver) were used to make the coat. I initially freaked out but I actually developed much appreciation for this coat. I wish I had more information in this brand for you. If you have any knowledge on this coat please share what you know, I would love to hear it! Leave a comment below!