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« Call Me Ruth | Main | Fashion Plates »
Tuesday
Aug072018

The Truth About Persian Lamb

I am not sure how I feel about this vintage 50s tall toque, which is made from astrakhan, also commonly known as Persian lamb, with a ring of mink on top. The label states it is ‘created by I. J. Ellemor, Furrier Melbourne’.

When I bought it in a thrift store (and when I photographed it), I knew the mink on top was genuine, and assumed the lamb fur was faux, but on closer examination – and with better light to read the label – I realised the astrakhan was genuine. Black is the most desirable colour too.

Generally I am ok with fur when it is a vintage item, especially when I am recycling a garment and giving it a second life, but knowledge of the realities of the astrakhan fur industry taints this hat somewhat.

Astrakhan is the curly fleece of Karakul lambs, a breed originating from Uzbekistan. Wool is not so bad, you might think for a moment, but it is in the manner that these beautifully and tightly curled fleeces are produced that is particularly horrifying: ‘the pelts come from Karakul sheep that are either fetal or killed and skinned before they reach three days old when their pelt remains tightly coiled and luxuriously soft’. [thecostumerag.com]

On the other hand, I’m not vegetarian, and I do eat lamb; however, astrakhan that is produced today is unregulated and not a by-product of the meat industry (read more if you dare at the above link). The Victorians and Edwardians were particularly fond of the fur, and it continued to be popular in the 1920s and 30s through to the mid-century. Were they less ruthless then; did they at the very least utilise the whole animal? It’s some consolation this hat is vintage, but if I wear it, it will be with a little sadness.

~

Read more on the history of astrakhan in this excellent article at the The Dreamstress.

Photo: July 2018

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