Sunday, 30 June 2013

Vintage meets ethics

I've been contemplating quite a dilemma recently, namely vintage and antique furs and other animal products.

I love animals, I've been a passionate vegetarian for nearly ten years, I get creeped out by people having bones on their plate... but just look how lovely this reindeer skin throw is. So cosy! It's not mine, but I'd love something similar for my place.

How can a veggie want bits of dead animal for decoration? I have stirred controversy in the past by taking admiring photos of taxidermy, especially stag heads. And I could spend hours in the stuffed animals bit at Manchester museum.

But then, I suppose on the one hand, you've got proper educational antique taxidermy like the museum stuff, and on the other, there's trophies of a blood sport, so ethically I definitely shouldn't be looking longingly at those stag heads. Meanwhile if something is antique, do today's morals really still apply to it? Look at stuff like tortoiseshell or ivory - can it still be valued and beautiful if the material has since become the height of bad taste? Should we go round destroying these horrible things, now the damage has been done so to speak? Is it the 21st century buyer or collector who has to take responsibility for what were very commonplace crimes a hundred years ago? It's like asking whether you should never ever watch Breakfast at Tiffany's because of the casual racism.

As for furs that you wear, I'm similarly conflicted - I'd seriously consider a black vintage fur coat that smells historic and looks proper glam and Russian, but shy away from a brand new, freshly killed one, turning my nose up and feeling a bit sick. Once it becomes an antique, the object sort of takes on a life of its own, it's more than just a bit of skin.

This probably makes me not a very good vegetarian, but luckily I don't face this dilemma just yet (vintage furs are £££!). For now, I'll just look for a fake fur throw on eBay, and keep looking for a lovely antler (without the dead head attached to it).