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Polis Report

Fur Real

By Michael Learmonth

"Relax," chides a billboard for Johnnie Walker Red Label, "the fur is fake, but the drink is real."

Further evidence of a backlash against the Animal Right, faux fur is riding the wave of cigars, steaks, spirits and swing, trading at thrift shops faster than wing tips and golf pants. And even though the price tag and pedigree of real fur offends the sensibility of the thrift-shop set, fur salesman Ken Morgenstern points out, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

Last year the fur industry announced a 10 percent increase in sales, up from $1.1 to $1.2 billion nationwide. This they attribute to last year's exceptionally cold winter and robust sales of luxury goods. A fur industry survey of fur consumers released this month reports the top two "most important" reasons for owning a fur coat are "warmth" and "fashion."

The fashion aspect could have something to do with the resurgence of fur on the runways last spring, despite People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' highly publicized "I'd rather go naked" campaign. Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour's declaration in the September issue that fur is back brought her a payback in grand PETA style. As she was finishing a lunch of grilled chicken at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan with Mario Cuomo and designer Arnold Scaasi, a woman dashed in, pulled a dead raccoon from a brown shopping bag and dropped it on Wintour's plate.

"We're working to get fur out of Vogue," said PETA staffer Jenny Woods. "She was a PETA activist working on her own."

But some fur wearers are tired of the stigma. Said one woman when she picked up a coat from storage in Morgenstern's shop: "I deserved this, and I'm going to wear it."

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From the January 2-8, 1997 issue of Metro

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