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NOT FUR REAL: “I loved being this little mouse near Karl [Lagerfeld], watching how it all worked. Although I don’t pretend I have even a hundredth of his talent. He passed on his passion, and I hope that from up there, Karl sees me and is proud of me,” said French model and pop singer Baptiste Giabiconi just before the inaugural show of his faux fur brand House on Fire on Saturday.

While opportunities for collaborations or to create his own label had come his way while he was still in the entourage of the late designer, Giabiconi had never felt comfortable taking them up. “I didn’t feel capable then — too young, too much to learn. But now, [I realized that] you can create brands that speak to people without having to pretend you’re this great designer,” he said.

He chose fur as his signature material, for its luxurious image and because he felt that it was important to build sustainability into garments even at lower price points. “I’m a boy with a working-class background, so I wanted my brand to be accessible in style and price. Everyone should be able to live their lives in the way they want, and have access to sustainable, bio-sourced, trendy clothes,” he said.

Working with high-end faux fur specialists Ecopel was a natural choice, Giabiconi added, because of its expertise and animal-free alternatives to fur and wool, using bio-sourced fibers derived from corn or hemp.

“When I met Baptiste, I was charmed by his character. He is simple, approachable and knows the value of hard work. I come from a modest background, and I had people who lent a helping hand to me. I felt it was my turn to offer my help to those who want to create, including students who want to include fake — or vegan — fur in their work,” said Christopher Sarfati, founder and chief executive officer of Ecopel, adding that the company, which counts Stella McCartney, Vanessa Bruno and Kering among its clients, is working on reaching zero-water usage throughout the production cycle.

For this lineup of relaxed silhouettes with an urban vibe, Giabiconi worked with Nigerian-born, U.S.-based stylist Ugo Mozie, who counts Beyoncé, J.Balvin, Justin Bieber and Travis Scott among his clients. “I wanted a lot of colors, because that’s how I see life now. Fake fur offers so many possibilities, from the range of textures to being able to develop prints, that I really wanted to play with this across great basics,” Giabiconi said.

Cue wide-legged shorts hitting under the knee in printed short-haired shearling-analogue, plush teddy bear coats, roomy joggers with a stripe design shaved into the leg, oversized shirts in a creamy suede-like material and a shearling-look jacket in grey with blue banding. Complementing the fur were a handful of T-shirts printed with the House on Fire logo in recycled organic cotton.

While the retail strategy is still under wraps, the brand plans to open preorders to the public in mid-July on its own website, with delivery planned for October 2021. Prices will start around 300 euros for separates, and go up to 500 euros for coats.