Byline: Julee Greenberg

NEW YORK — While fur trim has been a growing trend in ready-to-wear for several seasons, the abundance of looks on the New York and Milan fall runway shows will undoubtedly add to its importance.
For fall 2001, many designers chose not to use fur in the traditional way, but instead used fur to accent a variety of wearable styles, from coats and sweaters to eveningwear and suits. Over the weekend in Milan, the ode to fur went back in time to pay homage to the Davy Crockett coonskin cap in replicas of the Fess Parker classic of 1955, as well as furry tails showing up on bags, belts, coats and hair accessories.
Carolina Herrera offered a short mink jacket and a hooded lynx coat. Angel Sanchez showed many pieces mixing sequins and mink, and Oscar de la Renta put out a belted white sweater with fox collar and cuffs. Other designers highlighting fur trim in their fall collections were Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Halston, Cynthia Steffe, Chado Ralph Rucci and Christina Perrin.
Michelle DuPuis, a buyer at Henri Bendel, said the store did “unbelievable” with fur-trimmed styles last fall and looks forward to expanding the array this autumn.
While Bendel’s carried pieces trimmed in fox and raccoon last year, DuPuis said the store is sure to include a larger variety of furs including mink and sable this time.
“Another new thing for the season will be a mixing of different types of furs together,” she said explaining how fox, raccoon and mink can be combined to create a patchwork effect.
“There will be more of a color spectrum offered in fall 2001,” DuPuis added, explaining the availability of dyed fur in colors like red, purple and blue.
Designer Thomas Steinbruck used the fall 2001 season as his first to use fur within his collection and he said he was “surprised by the amazingly positive response” from retailers.
While the designer said he believes that fur is timeless, he does not consider it to be “another fabric,” but more an accessory.
“Fur-trimmed garments represent the ultimate in luxury and glamour,” he said. “Fur will never go out of style.”
Steinbruck said he plans to continue to add fur to his collections, but will not use it in the spring because “My approach to spring is to always do light, resort-like pieces,” he said.
Steinbruck said he’s a firm believer that fur-trimmed items can be worn for day and evening.
“It all depends upon the type of fur used and the fabrics with which it is used,” he said. “Versatility was my intent with this collection.”
To the contrary, Angel Sanchez believes fur is an elegant addition to evening looks and should only be reserved for night.
“Fur is only for night,” he said. “I just don’t think fur is for the daytime.”
Sanchez said when he chose to include fur in his fall collection, he didn’t realize how popular it would be among other designers.
“I explored fur for a long time and decided I liked the idea of using it in my collection,” he said, noting his use of combining fur with embroidery and sequins to create a “luxurious evening look.”
Douglas Hannant said he enjoys using fur in his collections and believes this is the perfect time for it, since women no longer have a need for “something basic.” For that reason, he said he has created fur pieces that offer a woman something different, whether it be a sable stole accented with a pocket or a fox vest.
“Fur trim is what women want,” he said. “It is luxurious and undeniably beautiful.”
Hannant said he has high hopes that fur is a fashion “here to stay,” and he will continue to use it within his collections to come. He is so confident, that he has signed a licensing deal to create Hannant Furs, a separate collection of fur coats to make its debut in fall 2001.
Fur accessory designer Cynthia Rose said the popularity of fur trims has helped to lead to “an unbelievable reaction to the fall collection.”
Rose said women are wearing more fur today because designers have made it such a wearable item.
“Fur-trimmed pieces allow women to have fur without going to the full expense of a full fur piece,” she said. “But it still looks rich and expensive.”
While Rose has been collecting vintage fabrics and furs for more than 15 years and her designs range from shawls to pillows and muffs. She used fall 2001 to introduce squirrel-lined denim jackets encrusted with vintage jeweled beading on the cuffs and collar, Fifties-inspired capelets and fox-trimmed boleros.
Italian coat and suit maker Cinzia Rocca has also dipped into the fur trend by offering a variety of different accents within its collection.
“Fur trims have always been present in our collection, but fall 2001 shows fur in a very strong way,” said Denise Bongiorno, managing director of Cinzia Rocca USA. “Now, it reflects the reality that every woman can wear something with fur.”
All of the items on the Cinzia Rocca line, based in Brescia, Italy, offer detachable fur trims for two reasons, Bongiorno explained: to protect the fur when dry-cleaning the coat and so that the woman has two options in one coat.
“A coat in pure cashmere with a mink collar is still a beautiful, luxurious, pure cashmere coat with the fur detached,” Bongiorno said.
For those designers who choose not to use real fur in their collections, some still fed on the trend by using fake fur.
“I love the look and feel of fur, but would never use real fur,” said designer Vivienne Tam. “Fake fur is more affordable and allows me to use it in different colors and patterns.”
For those who don’t hesitate to use the real thing, Hannant summed up their feeling when he said: “Fur is so luxurious, it’s the ultimate in luxury. I hope that its here to stay.”