Fur Over Skin. The Evolution of Stylish Fur in Fashion

Explore the history of wearing fur coats with the National Museum of Costume in Portugal

By National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Fur hat (1960/1970) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Fur coats

The exhibition is a part of the "Collections in Detail" exhibitions program and encompasses dress and accessories made of pelt, belonging to the collections of the National Museum of Costume. Its aim is to raise public perception of a material whose uses and functions – althouh controversial – follows the history of societies throughout the centuries, keeping pace with their technological evolution, changing the use and typologies according to the historical, cultural, social context and the personal taste of its creator/wearer.

Brown ostrich feather coat (1880/1890) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

FUR AND ACCESSORIES

The National Museum of Costume has been collecting dress and accessories made of pelt, summing more than one hundred items, most of them dating from the 20th century.

Coat (1890/1900) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

ANIMALS' FURS

Testimonies with multiple insights and evoking other passions and reasons, what matters here is to record a typology of items which respond to a basic need, to shelter, using animals' furs.

Black fur coat (1910/1920) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

SOCIAL STATUS

As symbols of social status, more or less precious furs were employed in a variety of garbs and according to the financial possibilities of their wearer: astrakhan, fox, chinchilla, marten, sable, mink.

Brown fox fur stole (1950/1960) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

FUR LINED MUFFS

The fur lined muffs appeared by the late 15th century, along with the first stoles made of sable, marten or fox fur.

Children´s fur cape and muff (1920) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

17TH CENTURY

In the 17th century, Europeans brought furs from the New World and the American beaver was highly appreciated, used in hats, muffs, gloves and trims.

Fur cape (1930/1940) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

20TH CENTURY

In the first decade of the 20th century, the most common warmers were capes and coats associated with stoles and muffs. The most favoured furs were bear, lynx, fox and wolf.

Black velvet cape (1940) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

REDUCTION ON FUR TRADE

The World War II caused a reduction on fur trade: hunting was disrupted and there were restrictions to the sale of the most expensive furs in most countries with people turning to the use of cheaper furs such as hare, fox and weasel.

Leopard fur coat (1940/1950) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

THE NEW LOOK

Following the New Look in 1947, the long fur coat became an icon. It was wide and draped, made of precious furs.

Black rabbit fur coat (1969) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

1960's

In the 1960's there was a democratization in the use of furs: everyone could afford a faux fur coat, since the imitations could easily confuse an amateur.

Brown rabbit fur coat (1972) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

1970's

The 1970's highlighted a renovated interest in the authentic and original. Imitations and cheap fake reproductions of the various furs no longer appealed to the consumers.

White fur coat (1930/1940) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

MACHINE-WASHABLE FURS

Today, with a new generation of materials and faux furs, laser-cut, printed, engraved, elastic and stretched furs and even machine-washable furs, it seems the world is experiencing an inversion in the taste of fur over skin.

Credits: Story

Texts: Clara Vaz Pinto,
Elsa Mangas Ferraz,
Xénia Flores Ribeiro
Online exhibition: Cândida Caldeira
Collection: National Costume Museum in Portugal
Photos: © DGPC/ADF

All rights belong to the National Museum of Costume in Portugal unless otherwise stated. For more click here.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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