It’s Not Your Mother’s Fur: Part One

It is a matter of choice: fake or real?
Stand Studio Faux Fur appearing in Porter Magazine

The hottest trend in fashion right now is going fur-free. Furs are a hot button topic and understandably so. It’s not ‘cool’ to be a fan of fur, and to say they are out of favor is an understatement. In 2018, the British Fashion Council became the first major fashion council to ban animal fur entirely. On January 1, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ruled to ban the sale of new fur pieces, making it the largest city ever to do so. The legislation went into effect and will allow retailers to sell their existing inventory until January 2020. The vote to ban the sale of new fur garments in New York City was tabled in October 2019 for political reasons.
Only a handful of designers (Fendi, Thom Browne, The Row, Ralph Rucci, among others) continue to work with real fur and faux furs are now ubiquitous in the market. There was a smattering of faux coats on the runways of Dries Van Noten, Louis Vuitton, Ann Demeulemeester, and during the recent Fall 2020 Menswear shows in Paris. Faux furs will never be as breathable or as warm as the real thing, but some are so convincing that it would be hard to tell which is which without actually touching them. And they are so compelling that you might find yourself having red paint sprayed on you by a member of PETA.

I am a staunch animal rights advocate. I would never support an industry that harms, kills, or maims animals, and I would never buy new fur. But, I refuse to be bullied into thinking there is something wrong with wearing and enjoying pieces I already own, some of which are 50-70 years old. For me, it is a personal choice. Additionally, vintage fur is an environmentally benevolent resource. It is biodegradable as opposed to an oil-based synthetic fabric that could take thousands of years to biodegrade.

Much has changed in fashion in the last five decades. Treating luxury in a throwaway manner and imbuing a sporty vibe never gets old. The enduring image of Audrey Hepburn wearing her cropped mink pullover paired with narrow black pants, black flat boots, and an unassuming straw bag is forever memorable.

Bonnie Cashin 1970’s raccoon and leather coat

Vintage furs have a distinction and a personality that comes with age. And they have history. My most favorite piece is a vintage 70’s Bonnie Cashin raccoon and leather coat with a massive hood. When Bill Cunningham observed that “fashion is the armor to get you through the paces of your daily life”, he must have been talking about this coat. It is gutsy, sporty, and probably the warmest thing I own. It looks as good today as it did back then, if not better, and has certainly withstood the test of time.

Anne Dee Goldin upcycled horizontal mink pullover

But let’s face it, not all vintage furs are fabulous. Maybe you purchased a fur many years ago or inherited one. Chances are it is too small, too large, or just plain unflattering and dowdy. Nothing looks worse than a shapeless fur coat — and nothing is as aging. Still, the coat has sentimental value, the fur is in good condition, and you would love to salvage it.

Perhaps you have considered turning your mother’s coat into a fur sweater à la Audrey Hepburn, or a cropped bolero or vest. Maybe you love the idea of adding leather to re-create a Mod jacket you once saw, or have considered using the fur discreetly, as a lining for a raincoat. Whether you have your ideas, pictures of things you love or need help figuring it out, you need an expert furrier.

Anne Dee Goldin

That expert is Anne Dee Goldin. She is a seasoned, third-generation furrier. I have known Anne Dee since the early 1980s. We initially met when she worked at Goldin Feldman, and I was an editor at Harper’s Bazaar. In addition to covering the designer market, I was also the fur editor. Can you imagine there was such a thing back in the day? It sounds like something out of the Stone Ages.

Anne Dee joined Goldin Feldman in 1980 (founded in 1909 by both of her grandfathers), thus launching the third generation of Goldin Feldman. Guided by her father, Fred Goldin, who instilled her with the ethic to never compromise quality, she learned the fur business from the bottom up – but she also brought a lot of her ideas to the table and added modernity to an age-old industry.

 Linda Evangelista Summer of ’89 in a Goldin Feldman ad campaign

Anne Dee’s fresh approach and strong aesthetic attracted some of the world’s most influential designers, including Chloe, Anne Klein, Geoffrey Beene, and Narciso Rodriguez to create their fur collections, which were sold worldwide. She was also responsible for groundbreaking ad campaigns selecting “up and coming” advertising talents such as Peter Arnell, Neil Kraft, and Doug Lloyd, now all legendary in their field.

The ads were shot by famed photographers Arthur Elgort, Rico Puhlmann, Herb Ritts, and Patrick Demarchelier featuring the hottest models in the business wearing the coolest furs with witty tongue-in-cheek copy written by Glenn O’Brien. In retrospect, Anne Dee takes pride in her ability to spot fresh talent and is honored to have had the opportunity to work with them.

In 2000, she launched her eponymous collection, Anne Dee Goldin New York, hailed as a welcomed, much needed, modern vision and voice within the fur market. Goldin decided to shutter that business in 2006 but was lured back. Her clients reached out to her for new fur items, as well as to update (remodel) their older furs. The creative hands-on process and being able to customize and work one-on-one with the wearer appealed to her. Anne Dee Goldin was born.

The couture shows began in Paris on Monday, and they end on Thursday. Very few women will ever be able to afford a couture Dior, Chanel, or Givenchy, but many can afford to avail themselves of Anne Dee’s made-to-order services. There is an emotional aspect of a remodel that happens as Ms. Goldin goes through the process with her clients, sharing a ‘sentimental journey’ with them.

Every project is a personal and meaningful experience; each fur has a story to tell. Many years ago, I bought a large skunk pelt at the 26th Street Flea market. Anne Dee transformed it into a marvelous detachable hood that looks perfect with a vintage skunk vest, which she also tweaked.

Marilyn’s skunk vest and GoldinStyle hood

Anne Dee treats fur like it is fabric and makes use of every last piece, so there is zero waste. Her emphasis is on high quality, sustainability, upcycling, repurposing, and customization, which is entirely in sync with the current zeitgeist. Everything is handmade in New York, and no two pieces are alike.

Jacqueline LeDonne von Unwerth
Photo: Ernest Schmatolla

In Part 2 of our article, we introduce Jacqueline LeDonne von Unwerth, a New York-based literary agent turned designer who was given her mother’s 1980s Michael Forrest ranch mink coat upon her death in 2006. We will illustrate just how Anne Dee transformed a relic of the past into something contemporary and modern.

Click Here For Part 2 of “It’s Not Your Mother’s Fur

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

  1. As someone who appreciates fashion, I find this article very relevant and timely. Fashion is a form of expression and, as such, it must evolve with the times and reflect our beliefs and values. The trend towards eliminating real furs in fashion is a reflection of a growing awareness of animal rights and sustainability.

  2. Saturday night at the Lowell Hotel in Manhattan a woman walked in wearing a maxi dark ranch mink coat. She sat next to me at the bar [Jacques, my hangout] silently draped the fur over her lap. Underneath it all she was wearing a black turtle neck with a string of pearls and grey flannel slim fit trousers cut like a pair of jeans. What I loved about her is that she treated her fur in a casual manner. No big deal. The way it should be. All played down. Oh…and she was 80.

  3. Hi Marilyn

    I’m a furrier’s daughter and proud of it! My dad was the protege of David Nemerov, Father of photographer Diane Arbus and owner of that grand old store, Russeks in New York and the branch in Detroit. Daddy learned how to be what he called “a master cutter.” He argued with me about whether being a furrier was a fashion occupation or a craft. He said the latter. But, he said, he was a man of God:
    That in the Bible, ch 3, verse 22, it says “and the Lord God made coats of animal skins and gave them to Adam and Eve for warmth.”
    Daddy also insisted that minks were bread for their skins, not to inhabit the earth but to keep humans warm! Daddy would have found today’s anti fur climate shocking, to say the least.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.