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Schiaparelli’s realistic animal heads have sparked controversy. Do they glorify animal abuse?


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Schiaparelli’s realistic animal heads have sparked controversy. Do they glorify animal abuse?

Schiaparelli’s Paris Fashion Week show has caused a stir on the internet after their hyperrealistic animal heads went viral. Doja Cat’s Swarovski-laden look was well received by most, but the lion-head dress first worn by Kylie Jenner became the centre of controversy.

Wearing a black gown with a highly realistic lion head on the shoulder, Jenner provided a first look at what was to come on designer Daniel Roseberry’s runway: a series of man-made, severed animal heads. Shalom Harlow donned a dress with a white leopard on it, while Naomi Campbell wore a wolf. Many presumed the heads to be real pieces of taxidermy, leading to controversy. However, Jenner confirmed on Instagram that the head was fake. Schiaparelli claims that “no animals were harmed” in their new collection, which was inspired by Dante’s Inferno. The fashion house even shared videos that showed exactly how the animal heads were made.


Roseberry further clarified on Instagram that the animal heads were made from hand sculpted foam, wool and silk faux fur. The intention was to celebrate the “glory of the natural world.” But the message did not translate well with everyone. Many argue that regardless of the faux fur, sending a message to the world that animals are commodities and human property is harmful.

The fashion show has received polarizing views from the internet and many animal rights activists. In a statement shared with Page Six Style, The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defended Schiaparelli’s collection as “fabulously innovative.” They further elaborated that it could be a statement against trophy hunting. PETA as an organization is also embroiled in many controversies themselves over its campaigns and policies.

Founded by Elsa Schiaparelli, the fashion house has deep ties to the surrealist art movement. The brand used exotic furs and animal skins when it was established back in 1927, much like many other luxury fashion houses. The brand was revived by Tod’s Group in 2012 and has subsequently stopped using real fur.

Animal rights activists have fought the world of fashion for decades. The industry is only just starting to reinvent its approach. Runways have almost entirely gone vegan and the once-discarded vegan leather graces the top fashion shows around the world. But even vegan leather, as an alternative to real leather, has proved to be a harmful choice. Brands such as Stella McCartney use PVC-free fake leather for their designs. But smaller fast fashion brands opt for cheaper ozone-layer-killing PVC. Furthermore, fashion already has a complicated relationship with animal welfare. Schiaparelli’s new collection comes as tone-deaf and insensitive for many. They believe it sends a message that glorifies the use of animals as fashion accessories.

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