After remarking how difficult it is to spot animals in France in my previous post, I think I may have found another reason. Animals are everywhere in fact, but mostly dead! Walking along Rue St Lazare, I spot this very curious sign* in the window of a shop selling fur coats and other animal related fashion accessories. Inside, ladies of a certain age are still measuring themselves up in the mirror and hesitating over a purchase that will make a large dent in the pre-christmas budget, but which will also ‘be an investment for many years’.
Are these same customers seriously asking about the provenance of the produce? Judging by the decoration of this shop (Galistin Basile, 20 Rue St Lazare), this is an establishment that has been in existence for many years and which has surely built trust with the clientelle, but these are exceptional times for everybody. It seems that this sign has been placed in the window of this shop as a reaction to this story. In October, French customs intercepted a delivery of over 4,000 coats and scarves imported from China which were labelled ‘fake fur’ but were actually the remains of cats, dogs and Asian Racoons. What price the life of an animal when it is cheaper to try to pass off these products as artificial but use real skins?
Fur has always been a popular and prestigious fashion accessory in France. A guilty pleasure but tempting for many in this cold, biting weather we are suffering at the moment. Despite intense pressure from animal protection groups and media action from celebrities worldwide, it still regularly pops up on the catwalk, and shops such as this one are not particularly rare in Paris. Is this sign a pointer that we are all asking ourselves more questions about our relationship with animals today though? What is the hierachy of animals which makes the fox and mink furs in the window acceptable, but the idea of cat or dog abhorrent? I look down at my leather shoes, then continue my walk home.
*Translation: “This shop does not sell any cat or dog skins, nor any skins coming from China”.