By  on January 24, 2005

NEW YORK — Something about fashion week forces designer Alice Roi to venture into new areas of her life and work.

Last season it was her fiancé’s doing, when he used models carrying signs to propose marriage. This time it’s of her own volition, as Roi dives into the fur market with her fall collection.

During next month’s New York Fashion Week, Roi will show fur garments and accessories with her regular runway collection. Tendler Furs will manufacture the line under license.

“Fur is not something I usually work with, nor is leather,” Roi said. “So I really wanted to explore new territory.”

Edgy downtown designers like Roi are not the sort usually associated with fur stoles, jackets or hats. But the guard is changing as young starlets and hip twentysomethings embraced fur looks last fall. They wore it in their own style, of course, and now Roi wants to lead the pack with her own designs.

“I feel like most times when [designers] make fur garments it’s in a very over-the-top way,” Roi said, “and I feel like that’s another reason young designers don’t do it, because it could have a cheesy, ostentatious connotation. But I really want to change that and make it really chic and less about the dyed chartreuse over-the-top...more sophisticated, less trashy.”

Roi has twisted classic styles such as cable knit using cutting-edge techniques. For instance, a mink scarf features a fishermen’s knit and pompom details. Vests and beanie caps are made with a stretchable knitted mink, and Roi uses a laser-cut sheared mink made to look like eyelet and velvet for her shawls and scarves.

Knit gloves are in the works, and mittens are made with black sable and cashmere. To tone down the looks, Roi is sticking with a muted palette of black, navy blue and light whisky brown.

Handbags will also be part of the new collection. For fall, Roi will offer a bag in a combination of black rabbit fur with dried cactus hardware and a patent leather handle.

“Playing up the patent is so techy, and then the cactus is natural, and the fur is too, but it has a totally different feel to it,” she said. “It’s playing up a lot of different textures and origins.”Wholesale prices will range from $100 to $695 for the collection, which will be sold to specialty stores, fur retailers and fur salons at department stores. Wholesale volume is expected to reach $5 million over the next five years, according to Tendler Furs.

So is Roi nervous about any potential protests from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at her upcoming show?

“What we do is make clothes, and people have made clothes in fur forever,” Roi said. “It’s a fabric.”

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