That Touch of Mink

One of my personal heroes, the English man of letters Horace Walpole, has a credit which makes me particularly fond of him (yes, apart from The Castle of Otranto and his Strawberry Hill mansion): he coined the word ‘serendipity’, meaning accidental sagacity, i.e. a fortuitous discovery while you’re looking for something else.  I’ve recently spent some time desperately looking for a symbolic pic of the 90s [1] I used to keep in my diary – Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola, Zoe Cassavetes and Lisa Marie, sitting on a white bed. I haven’t found it, but I’ve found some gorgeous pics of Kirsten Dunst by Sofia Coppola.

The set of pictures was supposedly published on Esquire, but I don’t know exactly when. What struck me most was the style (very much Juergen Teller-ish, but much classier and fresh), Kirsten’s pixie haircut and the blonde mink jacket she wore.

Very cute and sexy, Kirsten was portrayed by the director who made her famous (with The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette) in a bedroom. The atmosphere is not sleazy nor tragic, but quietly funny and classy.

Now, the detail I’d love to develop here is her blonde mink jacket. I am not a fur wearer, and I don’t understand the charm of real fur (I mean, if you really want to wear it, why can’t you choose a fake one?), yet I fell in love with this jacket, for different reasons.

This is not a simple item of clothing, because it brings echoes from the past and relations to pop culture with it. The first reason why I like it so much is its colour – soft, romantic, this blonde is not as classic as black mink, so it brings an idea of lightness and youth with it.

As I wrote a few lines above, this particular colour of fur has become a symbol in popular culture: while old ladies and noveaux riches wear black, brown or (God forbid) white mink coats, blonde mink is a prerogative of young girls, who have a refined yet alternative style, who wear fur but want to distinguish themselves from their black or brown-mink wearer mothers. It’s not a case that Marc Jacobs chose a blonde mink cropped jacket to appear in his fall/winter 2004 advertising campaign (shot by Teller, of course): he represents a style which doesn’t conform to the traditional/established rules, but turns them upside down.

Sofia Coppola herself owns a blonde mink cropped jacket.

The same fur colour was chosen in 2004 by one of Sofia’s best friends, director Zoe Cassavetes, for a capelet worn at the Costume Institute Gala. There would be so much to say about this picture – for your information, the man in the middle was a Marc Jacobs, in his nerdy/chubby, pre-diet, pre-tattoo, pre-skirt and pre-rehab version – but let me just say that Zoe and Sofia were stunning in their Marc Jacobs vintage-looking dresses.

Another celebrity whose love for furs is notorious is Lindsay Lohan. In 2008 she sported a coat in blonde mink, an item which caused quite a stir. Lohan was accused by a Columbia University student to have stolen her fur coat from 1Oak Club in New York, where they were attending the same party. I don’t know how this “fur accident” ended, but it looks like Lindsay pulled a kind of JLo in that occasion.

When it comes to cinema, two are the most notable examples of characters who wore this type of fur. The first is Tippi Hedren, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite actresses, who debuted in one of his movies – The Birds (1963) – in the role of Melanie Daniels.

All through the movie, she wore a green sage suit and a blonde mink coat, again a symbol of refinement and youthful elegance.

The second is the infamous Margot Tenenbaum, the character Gwyneth Paltrow played in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) by Wes Anderson. All the characters in the movie wear the same clothes or variations of the same clothes, and this emphasizes the fact that they are unable to move forward in their lives. For some reasons, they are stuck in a past when things were different – all the three Tenenbaum kids were geniuses in different fields, but their talents disappeared as they grew older.

Margot had a talent for writing, but she let it go: now she is married to the boring Raleigh St. Clair and is slowly slipping into a state of apathy and depression. Her character’s style is the same all through the movie: she always wears sheath dresses or Lacoste striped shirt dresses, loafers and her trademark Fendi blonde mink coat; her hair is side-parted and decorated by a colourful barrette, and her favourite bag is a Hermès Birkin.

Margot has not progressed in style, so she wears what she used to wear as a kid – mink coat included.

In this screencap, she is with her two nephews Ari and Uzi, who wear the same Adidas red tracksuit with white stripes seen on their father, Chas. The clothes of each character so defines him/her, that they have all become stereotypes and, as such, have inspired spoofs and homages. It’s the case of a photoshoot published on Harper’s Bazaar in 2008, featuring another famous set of brothers, the Ronsons.

It’s quite funny to see Marc, Samantha and Charlotte posing in front of the camera as the Tenenbaums: Marc is Chas, Samantha is Margot (even if her fur coat is not as beautiful as Margot’s in the movie) and Charlotte is Richie.

If you are a make-up junkie, if I say blonde mink, you’ll probably be thinking of the eyeshadow duo of the same name by Estee Lauder, from the Very Hollywood collection, created in collaboration with Michael Kors. The two tones of brown perfectly re-create the sophistication and softness of the blonde mink fur.

Before closing the post, a little appendix. When it comes to elegant and romantic colours, beige, powder pink and dove grey come to my mind, so I couldn’t help but including two examples of dove grey mink fur coats, seen on a celebrity and in a movie.

When I first saw this picture – Kate Moss doing Camille Bidault-Waddington’s make-up at the Café de Flore in Paris – I thought she was wearing a blonde mink coat.

Then I saw a picture of the same coat in colour and I realized I was wrong. Her coat is made of grey mink, which is possibly more romantic and refined than the blonde one. The shape of Kate’s jacket is to die for, because it’s classic with a twist – the sleeves are half-open by slits.

A fictional character who has a mink jacket as trademark is the hideous and spoiled Veruca Salt, one of the kids who enter the magical Chocolate Factory in the novel by Roald Dahl, in the 1971 movie by Mel Stuart and in the 2005 remake by Tim Burton. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find pictures of Julie Dawn Cole – the young actress who played the role in the first movie – wearing her beloved fur jacket (the one you can see above is Julia Winter, Veruca in Burton’s movie), because I wanted to compare the two jackets (the first was made of real fur, while the other one was made of fake mink) and see if the mink fur was blonde or dove grey (from the screencap I posted, the colour is not clear, it looks like a mix between both).

Do other celebrities or fictional characters wearing this specific colour of fur come to your mind? If so, leave a comment!

[1] I’m still desperately looking for this picture. If someone has it or at least remembers it, please drop me a line.

Source, source, source and source.

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11 comments

  1. Lovely post.
    I adore fur, but I never wear one of it for two reason:
    I can’t afford the cost and I don’t like how fur fit me
    and I think it’s a very cruelty kill these poor mink as well.
    Anyway I would snatch that stunned, dove grey, fur from Kate Moss :)

    1. I’ve never tried a fur coat or jacket, so I don’t know if it actually suits me or not. In any case, I’d buy a fur only to touch and caress it all the time ;) Btw, the main reasons why I haven’t bought one so far are the same as yours.

    1. Hi Elly!
      Thanks for posting this lovely pic (I’ve never seen it before), but unfortunately it’s not the one I’m looking for (even if I think they were taken in the same session) :( In that case, Zoe, Sofia, Marc and Lisa were all sitting on a bed. I remember Marc was wearing red Converse All Star sneakers.

      1. SO HAPPY! A user from a Sofia Coppola fan group on Livejournal just sent me the picture I’ve been looking for :D

        Here it is

        Back in the Day

        Am I the only one who thinks Lisa Marie is extraordinarily beautiful in her own way?

  2. Unfortunately, I cannot help you with the picture you’re looking for, but…Sofia Coppola! Margot Tenenbaum! Kate Moss! So many beautiful people in one single entry!!!! :)
    No doubts, my favourite fur is Kate’s one- followed by the one Kirsten wears in the photos. She looks sooo good with a pixie, I hope she sticks to this crop because it makes her look so effortlessly cool!
    I once wore a fur at a party where I dressed as Margot- it belongs to my mum and has amazing bat sleeves! I think it’s made of some sort of rat or rodent, certainly not mink- I felt very uneasy wearing it, but I must admit I sometimes feel tempted to borrow it in the coldest days because it’s incredibly warm and I am, alas, always cold, despite the fact I was born on the Alps!

  3. hey there! I just wanted to say that it is absolutely cruel to kill animals for fur. BUT, fake fur isn’t completely innocent either. It takes a gallon of oil to make 3 fur coats. From an environmental stand point, the greenest and best option is vintage real fur. If you buy from a vintage stoe, you are only contributing to the vintage clothing market, not the fur market – you’re not adding to the cycle. Even better if you buy from a charity shop!

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