Aspen’s Haute Couture
This article by Tamara Leigh first appeared in Third Coast Digest.
It started with going to see Anna Karenina before Christmas. I was captivated by the Dr. Zhivago-esque exquisiteness of the fur costumes—a visual treat for fashion followers like myself, and apparently the Oscar nominating committee, as Anna Karenina is up for Best Costume Design.
Then I went to Aspen for the holidays. Fashion in Aspen is an avalanche of stars and styles, especially the opening weekend of the X-Games at Snowmass, The Little Nell, and all along the cobblestone streets of the Rocky Mountains. There, in a storefront window, I saw a stunning snow-white fur coat. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, chasing fur from chinchilla, to mink, fox, and even faux, to find out what’s hot in winter fur from top designers.
In the name of “journalistic research,” I discovered Aspen’s haute couture. The luscious white coat in the window was an original Dennis Basso design, and the renowned master furrier was hosting a holiday party that evening. In the midst of luxurious furs, champagne, and the gracious Dennis Basso himself, I felt like Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman.
At Loro Piana’s, I discovered why the Canadian Fur Company considers Dominic Bellissimo’s designs to be the best. The reversible furs, featuring high-performance cashmere blends, offer the ultimate in warmth and wearability.
On display at Aspen Fur & Shearling LLC was a rustic, but no less rich, leather and fur western-look coat that seemed the epitome of both Aspen’s gold-rush history and present-day luxury lifestyle. Now owned by third-generation family member Mickey Apler, Aspen Fur & Shearling features unique pieces for both men and women.
When I wandered through Prada the same day, fur not only covered the floor, but also handbags, shoes, scarves, and outerwear for both genders. Aspen men, an eccentric bunch, wear fur with aplomb, and the rest of men’s fashion seems to be echoing their bravado.
Back from Aspen, New York fashion editor/stylist Tim Bitici honored me with a “fur”-ious convo, including his invaluable advice regarding faux fur maintenance.
If you’re seeking a faux fur alternative, Joy West Collection offers the highest quality for people wanting the look, but who are either opposed to wearing real fur, or are budget-conscious. True to their animal-friendly stance, Joy’s sales team welcomed both me and my Siberian Husky into their faux fur-filled boutique.
Among Tim’s choices for faux are Lanvin Paris, G-Star, and, believe it or not, Juicy Couture. “Fur is huge on all the runways for 2013,” said Tim, who loves mink, fox, gray wolf, and more exotic furs. He prefers chic gray (silvery) and golden brown furs the most, but he says his “ultimate favorite” is oxblood. “It’s so rich and luxe, like Lindsey Wixsonin Prada.”
“Fendi is how fur is done,” said Tim. “Tom Ford—wow, he does the red and yellow fur like no other. Jean Paul Gaultier for fun, colorful looks.Alexander McQueen for gorgeous shaped furs that are beyond original and stylish.”
Tim’s own shoots show his signature creativity: he puts a fur vest over a leopard coat in one shot, and a mohair fur in another. “Every designer is influenced by history and by fashion from the ’20s, ’40s, ’60s, ’70s, and film,” said Tim. “Designers find inspiration there and follow it through to their creations.”
Locally, along the coast of Lake Michigan, there’s plenty of places to find fur treasures in vintage and resale shops. Wisconsin was, after all, built on the business of beaver and pelt trading. Milwaukee’s A.J. Ugent Furs, on 84th & Capitol, boasts not only the best furs, but also on-site, accessible storage.
Wondering where to wear your fur? Any of the Bartolotta restaurants work, such as Joey Gerard’s in Mequon, where last week, more than a few fur coats were seen as the wind chill dipped below zero. There’s no better, or more beautiful, way to wrap yourself up this winter than with fur.