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NEW YORK — Ali MacGraw has appealed to her friend Michael Kors to stop using fur.
Traces of her signature style have been seen in the designer’s collections, and Kors even took the actress as his date to the CFDA awards two years ago. But that hasn’t deterred her from sending him a handwritten letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
A Michael Kors spokeswoman said the company only received the letter Friday. “We’re in a consumer-driven business. We had a fur license in the Eighties, and we discontinued it when people stopped buying fur. When people started buying it again, we started making it again.
“If everyone stopped buying it, we would stop making it,” she added.
During a phone interview Tuesday, MacGraw said she had not heard back from Kors yet, but expected to.
She had only kind words for the designer, aside from the fur issue. “Michael is not just one of the greatest talents, but also one of the nicest people I know.”
He also “does some of the best-looking fur shearlings out there” and that is a point of contention with MacGraw, an animal activist for 40-plus years, who recalled an East Village designer who made coats from the skins of stray cats in the Sixties. While she’s not about to spray paint on fur coats as some protesters do, MacGraw said she’s not above writing a few letters asking other designers to abandon fur as well.
“They trap and maim those animals,” she said. “I get crazy when people say, ‘They’re farmed for that.’”
In her letter to Kors, MacGraw noted the Canadian government has approved the slaughter of one million seals over the next three years — the largest number killed in half a century. “When designers use real fur of any kind, they increase the popularity of all fur among consumers. Even if the fur that you use is only trim, it still makes a difference.”
During the interview from her home in New Mexico, MacGraw at one point paused and said she had to close a door to protect a cat from coyotes. “I love fashion and I love the people in fashion. I don’t think it’s OK to include an element of outrageous cruelty in decoration. It’s possible to look extraordinary without it.”
This story first appeared in the November 10, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
MacGraw said editorial coverage has “lionized” fur again. In turn, the diamonds and fur combo has trickled down to street culture as an emblem of success, she said.
In terms of fashion in general, MacGraw said she is “not nuts about it right now,” and is looking forward to the end to this “aggressive and tough sexuality thing.”