December 14 2010
As a non-vegetarian who has spent time in very cold climates, I have no moral objections to fur, but I have never really taken to it; I have owned several fur coats in the past, all hand-me-downs or vintage buys, and not found them easy to wear – too stiff, too formal, too old – except for one little three-quarter sleeved jacket, probably 1950s and of dubious provenance species-wise, made in an old-fashioned, finely-stranded way that gave it a delicate lightness. It also made it fragile, and on inspecting it at the start of the current cold spell I found it too far gone, only fit for a cat blanket.
Knowing that fur is now treated in light and economical ways, I turned for advice to Izzet Ers, the creative director of Hockley, who knits everything from rabbit to chinchilla and mounts fine strands of fur on light, flexible fabrics such as jersey or tulle as well as working with more traditional mink. I asked him for the impossible – a warm, all-purpose jacket that would go from a casual weekend or low-key skiing trip to wearing over an evening dress, and not cost a fashion ransom.
Bearing in mind that last point, he steered me away from the mink, towards the lighter items, picking pieces to suit my colouring that were subtly dyed (a time-honoured practice – my 1950s jacket was a gorgeous but improbable shade of henna chestnut). I would have loved the subtlety of a sable jacket, knitted in bands on to cable cashmere and nonchalantly reversible, but at almost £4,000 it was beyond my pocket.
Our simultaneous choice was an easy, A-line jacket of fox in an understated mix of grey-blue and brown (pictured, £1,995), layered in strips on to jersey and soft and drapy enough to wear loose or belted without looking bulky. It comes with a conscience-salving Origin Assured certificate (an assurance that the fur originates from a country where national or local regulations or standards governing fur production are in force). Without the traditional skin base, a knit underlayer is useful in extreme temperatures, but otherwise it is a multipurpose modern classic, and though paying for it was painful, I expect it to be a once in a lifetime purchase.