Rat fur revival - Macleans.ca

Rat fur revival

The pelt of a semi-aquatic rodent makes a comeback on fall/winter catwalks


Rat fur is making a comeback on the fall/winter 2010 catwalks. A comeback? Well, Yves St Laurent and Jacques Fath designed rat fur hats in the 60s, and Hollywood star Greta Garbo reportedly fawned over her rat-skin coat. The source of the fashionable pelt is the bayou water rat, also known as nutria, which was introduced by fur farmers in Louisiana. In the 1930s, the rodents either escaped or were released into local marshes. “We thought the alligator populations were going to control them,” says Edmond Mouton, biologist programme manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Instead, the species multiplied and trappers now earn $5 for every rat they catch because the furry rodents destroy the roots of marsh plants. While a rat jacket may not have the same sheen as, say, a mink coat, the New Orleans-based artist Cree McCree wants the world to know about the virtues of ethically sourced nutria. “I want to show the remarkable ways that nutria can be used and highlight how vital it is to protect our wetlands,” she says.

The Guardian

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