|Designer Anna Tagliabue and Adele Nino|
All photos: Laurel Marcus
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The calendar says spring but there's still a chill in the air, or at least there was last night when I found myself at the Pelush luxury faux furs by Anna Tagliabue trunk show . http://www.pelush.com/ In case you're unfamiliar with the faux fur, anti-animal cruelty line, its Italian creator (Tagliabue) previously worked for two brands that you have most definitely heard of: Fendi and Prada.
With that kind of illustrious "training" and "pedigree" (if you will), her faux furs are French imported luxe, one-of-a-kind, often embellished with gold guipure lace or other "jeweled" ornamentation, yet they are are priced at designer couture prices; a fact that dashed a few dreams, including my own.
|Guests with their dogs|
It's important to mention and factor in that 10% of the proceeds were "ear" marked for The Humane Society to help stop animal cruelty. Indeed this was an animal friendly evening in more ways than one -- just about every dog had brought a human who may have tried on a coat or ten, usually while cradling said canine.
|Ron Ferri the artist|
The trunk show was held at acclaimed artist Ron Ferri's apartment off of Fifth Avenue and naturally several of his modern art pieces grace the walls. Renowned in the art world for over 40 years, Ferri's works can be seen at MOMA, the Smithsonian, the Whitney and the Musee D'Art Moderne in Etienne, France, just for starters.
|Ambrose Martos and model|
The crowd was an interesting and lively blend of performing types including an actor/clown/host (in a great take on a Royal Tenenbaum's "jogging suit"), artists, bloggers, a literary agent, as well as the usual suspects -- the social types who frequent anything remotely connected to art or fashion. As you might assume, there were multiple languages in the air, particularly Italian and French, with several rumored members of nobility present.
|Debbie Dickinson on the left|
When I first arrived and was greeted by marketing and PR agent Debbie Dickinson (yes, the supermodel and sister of Janice!), I already knew this was going to be an unusual night. She introduced me to Anna who was showing her wares to a potential client, all while dodging at least three video and still cameras with roaming booms just inches away. I observed all of this for a short while, then could stand it no more, and jumped into the fray.
My eagle eyes focused, spotting my prey within seconds -- a sleeveless, midi length vest of faux broadtail with gold lace appliques and a cozy long haired fur collar -- an item as completely impractical as it was charming. I swanned around the room for at least an hour, to the point where I thought I might be incurring a rental fee. A woman who had fallen in love with a coat (one with actual sleeves!), tried to bargain with the designer on both of our behalves. Tagliabue did relent a bit but not enough to seal the deal for either of us. The idea of paying over $2,000 for faux fur was proving to be a hard sell, however it did end up leading to the conspiratorial sharing of some pretty funny stories.
|Anna modeling a piece from her collection|
Case in Point: The literary agent had a recent meeting with one of her famous actor clients, a well known proponent of animal rights, yet his activism had slipped her mind on that bitter cold morning. Upon realization of her mistake she felt it necessary to remove her fur coat, turn it inside out, hang it on her arm and pretend that she was just too warm to wear it. Another guest said that she had initially been carrying a fur bag today which she had to hurriedly stash.
A quick glance around the room demonstrated that just about everyone who had "adopted" a "pet" fur ended up keeping it on for the duration. I did not actually see anyone pay for and go home with one, although there was a woman who arrived in a Pelush pink "curly lamb" and did not take it off despite a nearby guest coat rack.
|The scene being recorded|
The evening continued to be documented by cameras; basically each woman (or man, for that matter) who tried on a fur for more than a minute, got their image recorded by both professional photographers and snap happy onlookers. All participants were more than willing to model the cozy yet elegant merch, while observers offered their positive feedback, making for an atmosphere not unlike a giant communal fitting room.
|Carole Garber left with Anna Tagliabue|
Eventually, enough "purse rats" had emerged from all manner of tote bags, handbags (none fur however), and coats, until they seemingly outnumbered the humans. At that point I determined it time to put my faux furry friend back on the rack and bid it adieu for now. Parting with such sweet sorrow, yet I took solace in the fact that, clearly, I was not the only one experiencing expertly crafted synthetic fur withdrawal.
- Laurel Marcus