Lubov Azria is hungry for fur. That much was apparent at BCBGMaxazria's Fall 2014 collection show at Lincoln Center Thursday morning, where fur -- fox, raccoon, rabbit, shearling, Toscana -- appeared on almost nearly every look, from conventional places like collars and vests, to less conventional (and less utilitarian) locations -- on the outside of a pocket for example, or as decorative, horizontal stripes on a skirt.
"We had a thing with PETA for about six years where you couldn't touch it, and now I'm like a hungry child, you feel it, it just feels right," Lubov Azria, BCBGMaxazria's chief creative officer, said backstage before the show. She said it wasn't fear of PETA that kept her from putting fur in her collections, but rather intuition that her customers were against it. "But now the moment is right. How else do you stay warm? The fake fur doesn't keep you warm, it's not the same. And by the way, it's just as polluted, to make polyester synthetic fabric is not eco-friendly."
Whatever your feelings on the ethics of fur and fashion, there's no doubt that the collection was one of BCBGMaxazria's strongest to date. The label's shows are not usually full of surprises. As Azria herself said, after nearly 25 years of shows, she and her husband, Max, know what works: simple, patterned separates and dresses. Lots of dresses. That may be good for business, but it can make for a less than thrilling show.
The Azria team was very creative in its use of fur. There was a Toscana fur-covered clutch, for example, which was slit on the sides so that it could double as muff. (I'm not entirely sure how practical that is, but it looked awfully good. See above.) A black leather sheath dress was made interesting with a shearling panel that stretched from below the hips to mid-calf. My favorite piece in the whole show was a glossy fox fur vest, dyed and stitched into a complex pattern of black, white and indigo -- a piece that held your attention as much from the back as the front (see top second to right)
It will be interesting to see how many of these fur pieces make it into stores -- or rather, how they'll be watered down for stores -- as the runway pieces themselves were super luxe, and well above the label's average price point. Fortunately, many of the silk dresses shown in the collection are likely to make it to retail, and they too were strong, color-blocked in a pleasing palette of warm neutrals, grays, black and aqua (see top left). A sure standout was a black silk velvet gown with a burnout pattern that resembled a monarch butterfly's wings (see top right).