Backstage at Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Fall 2018

GOING FUR-FREE: Could Jean Paul Gaultier be the latest designer set to go fur-free? The couturier this weekend on French Saturday night TV show “Bonsoir!” said that’s the plan going forward. A Gaultier spokeswoman declined to confirm the news, however, adding that the designer is traveling.

Replying to presenter Isabelle Ithurburu’s comment that he likes to work with leather and natural fur, Gaultier said: “That’s something I’m going to fix.

“I’ve worked with [fur] since the beginning, occasionally working with old furs,” he said, conceding that the material is more sensual than fake fur.

“But alternatives do exist for keeping warm,” he added. “The way animals are killed is deplorable.”

Responding to Gaultier’s decision, Mark Oaten, chief executive officer of the International Fur Federation, said: “Jean Paul Gaultier is a hypocrite to describe fur as deplorable. He has worked with and sold fur for years. So why the sudden change of mind? Why would he listen to PETA, an animal rights group that have made statements offensive to gay and Jewish people? He should think again and stick with fur, a natural and sustainable material that is good for the environment, unlike the fake and plastic alternative.

“As for PETA claiming animals are bludgeoned to death — this is total nonsense and fake news and they should withdraw this allegation.”

Mimi Bekhechi, director of international programs at the U.K. branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement Sunday that, “The corks are popping at PETA’s headquarters.”

The animal rights group has been aggressively targeting Gaultier for years to try to get him to ditch fur. In 2006, PETA activists demonstrated at the Jean Paul Gaultier store on Avenue Georges V in Paris, led by PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk. Protesters smeared red paint on the windows and activists waved signs, “Death for Sale.” About a decade ago, PETA protesters stormed onto Gaultier’s ready-to-wear runway in Paris — and security guards wrapped them in fur blankets before spiriting them away.

PETA pointed out how Gaultier joins the ranks of Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney as fur-free fashion designers. In recent months, a number of well-known creatives and labels like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg and Jimmy Choi have vowed to stop using fur in their collections. However, many of these brands continue to use shearling, as well as leather — both of which also are on PETA’s list of materials it wants eventually to see banned.

Designers who agree to stop using fur are being celebrated in different ways. Gucci, for example, was to be honored Nov. 9 with the Corporate Consciousness Award at the Humane Society of the United States’ 2018 “To the Rescue!” New York gala. In advance of the event, the group’s acting president and chief executive officer Kitty Block credited Gucci for changing the way fashion luxury looks at animal welfare.

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