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Carlotta Actis Barone’s Fur Pas

Evelien de Vogel uncovers the designer’s undying love for (faux) fur

Written by . Published on September 2nd 2011.


Carlotta Actis Barone’s Fur Pas

FUR, the social faux-pas of the ’90s, has quietly been making its way back up onto the runway for some time in all four major fashion cities, but the A/W2011 season can be labelled as its biggest comeback yet. From John Galliano and Alexander Wang to Louis Vuitton and Elie Saab, fur was back in its full glory.

While 1994 marked the peak of anti-fur movements and was the year of notorious anti-fur campaign ‘I'd rather go naked than wear fur’, featuring five of the ’90s leading supermodels, including Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell, by 2011 new generations seemed to have turned their backs to animal welfare and embraced bloody fashion. Now, Britain’s fur industry is back – and thriving, after almost being driven out of existence in the 1990s.

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It seems over the past two decades, wearing fur has gone from being a social crime, perhaps punished with a splash of red paint in your face by strangers in the street, to a furry way of keeping yourself warm in Britain’s oh-so-harsh winters. However, do not be mistaken, twenty years on and the suffering the fur trade causes to animals is as great and inhumane as ever.

Fortunately, a new anti-animal cruelty activist has emerged to fill the sustainable fashion void left by some designers. Her name? Carlotta Actis Barone, and she’s one to watch.

Actis Barone trained in pattern cutting and figure drawing at the Carlo Sedoni Institute in Italy, before moving to London to study Fashion Print at that one school that never fails to deliver the next big thing, Central Saint Martins. In the midst of her studies, Actis Barone briefly interrupted her degree when the opportunity arose to work closely with artsy and creative visionaries Max Azria, master of the characteristic edgy-yet-chic street style, Balmain, and Korean designer Moon Young Hee, representative of sensual femininity. 

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After graduation, Actis Barone began her fashion career in styling, before being scooped up swiftly by talent sniffers Fashion Mode in 2010, who named her one of their four new faces of fashion. With Fashion Mode as her wingmen, she is now famed for her daring combinations of ethical protest against animal cruelty with striking avant-garde design, to which her collection for A/W 2011 is a direct example.

Coco Chanel’s greatest rival Elsa Schiaparelli once said, “In difficult times fashion is always outrageous,” and that phrase can certainly be applied to Actis Barone. Her designs have always been politically motivated and have always had a focus on social matters. Her Central Saint Martins end of  year show featured eight looks that were inspired by feminism, and the A/W 2011 collection drew in many ooh-la-la’s and gasps for her outspoken political views on the slaughter of fur.

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The colour palette of the collection was kept simple, with elegant navy blue, white and beige. It was a story board of leather pants, knitted dresses, cowl neck hoodies, cream wool jackets, statement dresses and, of course, faux fur. From short capes, cuffed jackets and as part of a dress, to cosy muffs which make you long for those wintery days, Actis Barone showed fashion doesn’t have to be bloody to be warm.

Her let’s-all-pretend-this-is-a-Russian-winter collection (or is it more like The Chronicles of Narnia?) gets avant-garde with the strikingly contrasting bold red underskirts, which represent animal cruelty, the almost gothic, showy dresses and the statement tights. This is a highly wearable collection, but also makes a daring statement to the new fur-loving society of 2011.

Available for purchase from Fashion Mode: www.fashionmode.co.uk

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