(Lion) Heads turned: The controversy with the animal inspirations behind Schiaparelli’s latest collection

Haute Couture is fashion’s answer to genuinely creative (and often crazy) clothes. This is certainly true regarding the legendary fashion house, Schiaparelli, which never fails to excite and amaze. But heads were turned and eyebrows raised when Kylie Jenner attended the show, complete with a faux lion’s head on her shoulder.

The look was dramatic and show stopping, also appearing on the runway before the young star, but has created controversy as animal rights activists have deemed it a glorification of trophy hunting.

Another beautiful look from the Haute Couture collection. Image from Alamy

The fashion house has a history of surrealist and avant-garde looks, with Elsa Schiaparelli collaborating with artist Salvador Dali in the 1930s to create a slew of stylish and fun animal-inspired looks, including the infamous lobster dress. The current creative director of the brand, Daniel Roseberry, has seemingly continued this theme, paying homage to the animal kingdom with his latest collection.

He intended for the ultra-realistic animal headpiece to “Guard the woman who wears it”, and assured the world that the looks from the collection did not harm any animals in the making, but Fleur Disney, of Animal Aid, pointed out that this wasn’t strictly true.

she said: “Schiaparelli certainly proved that fashion has the skill and talent to stop using animals, but the brand incorrectly stated that none were harmed; The look comprised of both wool and silk!”, products derived from animals who are well-documented to be harmed in the process.

Charlotte Regan, of World Animal Protection, also pointed out: “The designs do seem to send the message that wild animal body parts and decapitated heads are somehow desirable, luxury fashion accessories.”



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The collection as a whole has divided critics and fashion lovers.

A spokesperson from the animal rights group, NEAR, said: “If you were shocked by this stunt, ask yourself why you aren’t shocked by the sheepskin rug on your floor or the leather coat on your back – not by-products of the meat industry as is often thought – but killed specifically for clothing and furnishings.  Why does a fake animal head shock you but the real skin of an animal who wanted to live does not?”

But international organisation PETA released a statement defending the looks, suggesting that the use of the fake lion head may be a statement against trophy hunting, whilst still displaying the beauty of such animals.

Whilst we love the look, we will have to wait and see if the rest of the world agrees.

Let us know your thoughts @Fashionnorth 



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