Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monkey/Gorilla Fur Coats (Vintage Fur Coats)

Good morning!

One of the things I have been looking forward to the most this month has finally gone down-- SEASON SIX RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE, PRAISE THE LORD, is underway, and the kicker of the season premiere has the fourteen initial queens competing split into two groups of seven. Last week, we met group one-- this week, group two appeared in all its glory. While overall, I think I like the first batch of performers better, the second set featured Trinity K. Bonet showing up in THIS ensemble, and I about died. Not into the rhinestones across the face, not into the necklace...but the CLOTHES gave me a moment of pause. Take a look:


While I know Trinity's going for more En Vogue than pre-Weimar Germany, I am LIVING for this 1930's cabaret looking black sequin skirt, black satin bustier, and MONKEY. FUR. COAT. Possibly gorilla? Possibly goat? In any case, the shiny, long haired, black fur coat she's wearing is actually killing me with how much I want one. I don't know what is about these fur coats that seem to combine Morticia Addams, Keith Richards, and Dietrich all in one convenient, probably moth-eaten package. These outrĂ© trimmed pieces were popular in the twenties', but initially gained major fashion exposure a few years later when Elsa Schiaparelli (hallowed be thy name) used them in a 1938 collection. That line included this coat:


And a whole suite of monkey fur trimmed accessories, including those famous boots:



Le sigh. Aren't they gorgeous? AREN'T THEY CRAZY. I love all of it, but I love the weird, iconic feeling of the coats most of all. This one sighting on Drag Race opened up a well of sartorial longing I'd almost forgotten I harbored for this item. A monkey fur coat is one of the holy grails of vintage that I may or may not ever get my hands on. And ain't that a hard truth to swallow! Reasons? Number one, the price. Ish is expensive, you all. Get over the fact that you are wanting to make a joke about The Ring, and understand that my love for this garment is real. THEN, watch me cry a little salt tear as I am unable to purchase said garment. Because, jeez louise, THE PRICES:

 $700 (20% Off) MONKEY FUR BOLERO JACKET
I took to Ebay and Etsy, and even Pinterest to see what kinds of items came up when you type in any of the descriptors I listed above. While online is never a very reasonable barometer for how much money something should cost in real life (see: the price of almost anything collectible at an estate sale versus on Etsy), where else have I ever seen one of these coats? There was a capelet at the Goodletsville Antique Mall trimmed (not made of, mind you, it was 25% fur, 75% tattered black velvet) in black monkey fur, but it had lived a long and hard life since its creation in the twenties', and was two hundred dollars. I thought, "I'll just look online and see what kinds of things there are in various far flung corners of the United States. Who knows! I might be able to find some opera cape looking thing for a hundred bucks for all I know!" Um, turns out no. Bubble....burst. But do look at these awesome things I would buy with Kate Moss's checkbook, were I, in fact, Kate Moss:

Vintage Gold Coast Monkey Fur Coat & Muff circa 1940's


Deadstock 1930s Monkey Fur Coat with Capelet + Bakelite Clasp
$3,200

Some people may be icked out by the fact that it's fur at all-- while I'm as animal rights as the next person (reading Skinny Bitch actually turned me vegan), I really don't see the harm in wearing a vintage fur that's older than my parents. I know! Not everyone agrees! My thinking: if I was J-Lo, and my wearing even a vintage fur stole to the Grammys would spur Gucci designers to commit a bonobo genocide in response to the demand for such an item, that would be one thing; but does me wearing some long, long, long gone mink or chinchilla from less enlightened times bother anything except my mom's sense of good taste ("What! Is! That! Thing!?" is a more frequent response to something I'm wearing than "How chic!", haha). This post talks about the legality of intrastate, endangered animal pelt trade, and how only Montana residents can buy that out of control looking, Art Deco, EXTREMELY gorgeous monkey fur vest-and-jacket combination (lucky Montanians) mentioned in the article. I feel a little bit like Indiana Jones at this point in my internet research-- what?! For a monkey that's been dead since the days of Valentino, there are laws governing the sale of its pelt? I guess these same kinds of things apply when it's a 3,000 year old Colombian artifact, but for a eighty-plus year old colombus monkey? I guess....ok. Maybe, when I win the lottery, I should consider whether or not the feds are gonna take me down on crimes against nature, rather than crimes against fashion. However! Oh, the dark, dark drama of these coats! None of these keeps me from wanting one near as much as the price does.

Diane Pernet, a fashion editor and writer based in Paris, got in trouble with PETA recently for this (undeniably amazing, but no, not particularly inoffensive to animal rights' activists) gorilla fur coat she wore to Paris fashion week. Again, if it's eighty years old, is it necessarily terrible to wear this? 


So! Let's talk brass tacks. Where do you think Trinity got her coat? Has she skillfully fashioned it from human hair (which was a thought that crossed my mind when I saw Zoe from Girl with the Flower's hair purse...have we talked about this before)? How/where do I get an inexpensive, ethical-to-animals knockoff? I need to know! The only similar things on ebay under "faux monkey fur" were shipped from China, and after having a terrible experience with trying to buy a knock off handbag...well, I am once bitten twice shy. (Sidenote: said bag featured a handle that looked like a knuckleduster and an embellishment of a wicked looking skull in the listing pictures; when it arrived a month later, same so-called handle fell off, and skull looked like someone had skinned Krusty the Clown. I think I have learned my lesson not to trust the photos on some overseas buy-it-now-auctions, especially when ebay shopping under the influence of tequila) So what do I do! I'd love to hear your thoughts on how horrible/wonderful these coats are, and where I can buy a reasonable facsimile in the United States for under $100. Possible? Maybe?

That's all for today, I'm gonna go nurse this cold I'm fighting off with Emergen-c and  keep scrolling through Ebay (in case dreams do come true). Have a great Tuesday, and I'll talk to you tomorrow. Til then!

16 comments:

  1. i think trinity´s coat is plastic.
    i really like real fur - but this long haired stuff is somewhat creepy......

    p.s.: the chair is online :-)

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    1. Oh! I saw the chair on your blog, I think it's adorable! "Cute" goes with everything, haha. I NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THIS COAT...! Out of plastic!

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  2. I have been in love with monkey fur since I first saw "Singin' in the Rain" at a tender young age. The fashion sequence where he says, "Her cloak is trimmed with monkey fur to lend a dash of drama," still gets me every time! Happy hunting!

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    1. I had completely forgotten about that-- aren't they like Theda-Bara-level dramatic, too! I'll keep my eyes peeled and keep you all posted if I ever (PLEASE let me ever) find one in my price bracket!

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    3. hi what is your price bracket, i have a few listed in my bonanza store here is the url http://www.bonanza.com/booths/chistick?utf8=%E2%9C%93&item_sort_options[filter_string]=genuine+monkey+fur&item_sort_options[filter_category_id]=&item_sort_options[custom_category_id]=&x=0&y=0http://www.bonanza.com/booths/chistick?utf8=%E2%9C%93&item_sort_options[filter_string]=genuine+monkey+fur&item_sort_options[filter_category_id]=&item_sort_options[custom_category_id]=&x=0&y=0 and i am negotiable within reason, Regards Fashionista professor

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  3. long time reader, first time commenter dropping in to say those FOOT WIG SHOES ARE KILLING ME in the best possible way. I've recently started getting into vintage furs but never really went in for the silky monkey look, but this post has proven that was clearly a wrong thought on my part.

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    1. Hi, Shauna! Aren't the shoes insane? Schiaparelli is one of those designers that gets me right in the gut every time, genius to the nth degree. I guess these furs can look a little too Cruella De Ville sometimes, but dang...I want one so bad. And boots to match, just to fill out the villainess vibe. Keep your fingers crossed for me I find some (or find out how to DIY the mess out of this). Thanks so much for reading and commenting!! :D

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  4. I loooooooove how they look. I feel the same way about vintage furs/taxidermy. And not to be one of those "smug vegans" but most of the people who've questioned me about my 60 year old stuffed fox eat meat sooooooo I don't take it to seriously. I hope you find the monkey fur someday in a little family run sale for 20 bucks! Dream find!

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  5. Just ran across this blog post researching monkey fur. Have you been able to find a piece, faux or no? Go to FabulousFurs.com and type in "black goat jacket." Looks like an interesting piece for only $199, and you could probably find a 20-30% promo code out there. Everything from this company is faux. I have a "mink" vest from them, and it's quite pretty!

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    1. Thanks for the heads up! Haven't found a real monkey fur yet (I just can't afford the four digit price tags!) but will definitely check out this site.

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  6. My mother and Aunt Mary were in the fashion business. They were the only 2 children of an older Sicilian couple. My grandparents worked as a seamstress and an artisan that carved wood details for high end furniture. Practicing their crafts well before the 20th century. So My mother and aunt, born in 1919 and 1921, were bursting with creative design talent and energy. My mother had several fur coats. The first was a present on her 15th birthday. A muskrat coat. She also had a black Persian lamb tent cut coat, a mink stole, and a full length Blackglama mink coat. By far her most chic, unusual, glamorous, and eye catching fur was a full length jet black monkey fur coat. It was a gift from her parents upon graduating The Brooklyn Leading Design Academy in 1938. It is almost identical to the full length coat you have pictured. Similar collar, but I believe it was a bit longer in length. The strands also seemed to be bit a bit longer. The shoulders broad and hairs that curved fanning out where the sleeve attached to the shoulder. In the coat you picture, there is only a hint of the feathery effect of the curved fanning strands. When she lifted her hands the hair pooled between her fingers dangling about 6 or 7 inches creating a hauntingly elegeant black fringe that screammed, "Now get a good look at me everybody, because it's all about me and NOT about anybody else!" She found opportunity to work that coat, on occasion, well into her senior years. Chic is Chic no matter what your age is. My sister also took loan of it on occasion and inherited it. Now also my niece is under it's spell. They agree that the unique style and sleek chic design create an overwhelmingly elegeant confidence and haunting euphoria when you arrive wearing it. Sorry. but they will never part with it. It invokes too many memories of my fashionista mother and they adore wearing it.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for reading and for commenting-- I so enjoyed hearing about your chic mother and her super chic monkey fur coat! I'm glad the coat was passed on through your family and still gets a chance to liven up an evening out nowadays, what a wonderful story. :)

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  7. Well I love animals so much I rescue them. I have several fur coats and very beautiful one ur intrested in it was a gift from a women who's passed on . This full length coat wasn't in the best condition in fact I did everthing I could to bring it back to ok condition . I had a gay friend who was a hair styles ,who he in 1988 gor his own coat similar to mine but not as much detail or fur ,he was able to walk away with his coat from a vintage anconsighnent store for at that time 60,000.00. He sold it in l.a at consignment store 10 years or so later for $ 30.000.00. Well I know the more any fur coats have as in pockets ,coats ,lapels,buttons.I'm looking to seel thi one but I'm unable to fulfill you wish for$ 100. Good luck.

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  8. Oh, I so love the see the nasty old bats like Diane Pernet who feel since they are just so, so CHOSEN that wearing 80 year old dead apes should be ABsolutely de rigueur (for them). They need check with no one as to how their deaths may have occurred, their talent elevates them to levels where anything they want, they should have (brought by a minion, and quickly). And lets see, the ape (with 98% or the same DNA as Mz Pernet) died so long ago, well, what a tempest in a teapot. I seem to remember lampshades being made of something...something...oh what was it, about 80 years ago, nevermind, so everything old is a GO.
    But truthfully, Since she of the pinched spincters IS so close to the apes (I wouldn't call her Great) it would make sense that a sporty jungle denizen may deem to wear HER enormoose wiglet, G. Jensen sunglasses and special shoes that actually shouldn't be worn by the brittle. And finally, since 80 years seems to be a platinum number, perhaps her 80 year old self could be fashioned into something trendy for the todays primate on the go. A drapey boa perhaps.
    Anywho, I doubt the barking of PETA gave her any pause. Why should she be bothered with the parents who go to elementary school meetings anyway?

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