Fur and fluff: Why minks and kittens are making a comeback.

Notes from the fashion apocalypse.
July 8 2011 2:51 PM

Fluffy Distractions

A theory about what's really destroying the U.S. economy.

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American businessmen are succumbing to a shocking and incomprehensible new addiction, and it's annihilating all hope of a full economic recovery. While the country lurches toward an uncertain future, our key movers and shakers are staring at online footage of wide-eyed baby hippos, teeny-tiny marmosets, and wobbly baby penguins. And giggling. (More on that in a moment.)

Simon Doonan Simon Doonan

Simon Doonan is an author, fashion commentator, and creative ambassador for Barneys New York.

This coming fall, you, the ordinary woman in the street, will be presented with a "Sophie's Choice" of sorts. Brace yourselves. It's not going to be easy. Two wildly dissonant trends will dominate the apocalyptic fashion landscape. One is sauvage. The other is adorable, and occasionally involves wide-eyed baby hippos. Embracing both movements will give you severe indigestion. You must choose one or the other.

On my right we have—drum-roll!—FUR. Yes, the F-word. Fall 2011 fashion merchandise is starting to arrive in the stores and it's looking like a scene from Conan the Barbarian. (Remember the even cheesier Red Sonjastarring Brigitte Nielsen?) I saw it coming. In recent seasons the amount of fur worn by fashion-week attendees has increased dramatically. Even the fauxhemian vegan trendy fashionistas hopped on the bandwagon and began sporting oversized Muppet-chubbies made from goat fur. Then—bam!—this microtrend migrated from the front rows to the fall 2011 runways, and went global. Even the Olsen twins—– their fashion line is called the Row—are all furred up for fall and ready to go.

I myself will not be participating in this trend. I recently tried on a floor-length mink and the result was not pretty: I resembled the wayward offspring of Liberace and Hervé Villechaize.

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The fur coat in question—an early '80s Dynasty mink with massive linebacker shoulder pads—belongs to my mother-in-law, whom I refer to as Mommie, much to the embarrassment of all sentient beings within earshot, including Mommie herself. This formerly entrance-making but now tragically out-of-date garment was taking up far too much room in Mommie's closet. Mommie was anxious to offload or update it and was even threatening to shorten it herself using her trusty, rusty chicken scissors. Naughty Mommie! At one point I entertained the idea of relieving Mommie of said coat and wearing it myself, if only to save it from her murderous clutches. After ascertaining that it was not for me—in addition to looking atrocious in it, I also had visions of being chicken-scissored to death by PETA supporters—I persuaded her to take it to the fur department at Saks where it is having a full reno in time for the coming fall fur-fest.

So what about that other trend?

Running 180 degrees counter to the coming fur-fest, and yet related in the worst possible way, is the adorable-fluffy-kitten-video trend. Nobody, it seems, wastes time at work looking at porn or reading celeb gossip anymore. Every worker across the country is hooked on YouTube videos of hamsters kissing giant tortoises or pandas suckling orphaned llamas. Walk into any office and you will find a gaggle of workers squealing at the on-screen shenanigans of a spider monkey and his guinea-pig best friend. Puppies are the new porn. Cuteoverload.com is the new PerezHilton. And sexting? It is so last January! Anthony Weiner should have resigned, not for sexting per se, but simply for being so gruesomely off-trend.

In the old days it was only old ladies who enjoyed looking at images of kittens tussling with knitting wool. Now it's coked-up Wall Street machers! This sudden mania among business dudes for all things supercutesy clearly has some dark horrid provenance. Here's my theory: In recent years, porn caught a severe case of alopecia. A zero-tolerance for hair characterized both male and female "performers." The bush was banished. Then the inevitable happened: Those same playas—these are the guys who use porn to "de-stress"—began to miss the hair, the fluff and the fur. Et voila! Cue the sad-eyed wombats and the rambunctious baby aardvarks!

If you are currently in the grip of the cutesy phenomenon and have a video you would like to share, please identify it on the comments page so that other noncontributing members of society may waste critical man-hours enjoying it.

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