Friday, 5 December 2008

The Skin Trade

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”.

8 comments:

Cergie said...

Bonjour Adam, tout d'abord, as tu remarqué sur ma photo d'aujourd'hui les signes sur un arbre ? Je ne les ai moi même vus qu'en visualisant mes photos, cela m'arrive très souvent : je photographie un homme qui caresse un chat sans le faire exprès, sur la photo d'avant il n'y est pas, ou un homme en costume à Roissy au milieu de la route, en ce cas chaque fois je ne les découvre qu'après ; ou un personnage arrive pendant que je prends la photo, et s'installe juste au bon endroit....

Cergie said...

Je lisais que les animaux qu'on mange on les "déshumanise", sinon on ne pourrait pas.
Pourquoi serait-ce pire de tuer un chat pour la fourrure au lieu d'un boeuf pour le cuir des chaussures ou le manger ?

J'ai un très joli manteau en peau de mouton, ou d'agneau plutôt que j'ai retrouvé chez ma tante. Je ne le mettrais pas car ma tante était toute petite, mais le manteau est très beau. Et puis, ma tante ainsi que moi autrefois, nous habitions les Vosges, tu connais les Vosges. A Paris, on n'a pas si froid... Il y a moins de neige. On serait ridicule en manteau de fourrure

Adam said...

Ah, Cergie, il faut faire attention quand on regarde les photos de trop près - sinon, on se croirait dans le film 'Les Diaboliques'!

Squirrel said...

Terrible about the furs from China but not at all surprising. In some US states they place a sticker on all cups made in China warning that they are unsafe to drink from if you are very young, very old, or pregnant. Needless to say, I checked my cupboards and now my cups are all made in France and Ireland or by local potters.

Fur is not very popular here in our village.
I did check out the book you mentioned about walking in unfriendly areas--We do go on "photo walks" in these types of areas from time to time (New jersey factory areas, parts of Brooklyn) but one of the most unfriendliest walks is a walk outside a huge shopping mall in America. Walking the perimeter is daunting. and you look suspicious doing it too. It's an interesting experiment though. (like having to walk through a maze of gambling in order to get to your room in Las Vegas) there is no direct route. You can't simply circle a mall on foot--there are obstacles.

Adam said...

Hi Squirrel. Your shopping mall tale reminds me of 'A Walk in the Woods' by Bill Bryson. I'm not sure if he's particularly well know in America but he's very popular in the UK. Anyway, this book is about his attempt to walk the length of the Appalachian (which passes near your town you mentioned..), but the most difficult stretch he describes is when he comes off the trail and tries to walk from a town center to a mall on the outskirts. This is possible although not always pleasant in the UK, but here he ends up walking along a motorway, falling in a stream then getting covered up to his knees in mud - and he still didn't find what he needed in the mall!

Gina Verster aka ZY-XIN said...

A few years ago there was an investigation of missing cats in an area [I don't remember the name of the village] near the Swiss border. They eventually found piles of cat pelts stacked in some barn for sale...apparently they are coveted for health reasons...a panacea for rheumatism?...I forget, but not only the Chinese are into skinning cats!

Gina Verster aka ZY-XIN said...

I forgot to mention [since we are on the subject of dead animals!] that Deyrolles will be re-opening after the fire, and no, I don't think they will stuff pet cats and dogs again!!
Did you know that there are over 100 panthers and large cats kept as pets in Paris?...although I have yet to see one being walked anywhere! Let me know if you ever spy one!

Kali said...

cool blog, come check out mine sometime

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