A day on the slopes with my colleagues and a shaggy girl
I got home one evening from work and there was a package waiting for me at the reception/concierge desk. I knew exactly what it was as I had been anticipating its arrival since the day I ordered it online. Trembling with excitement I hurriedly took the elevator up to my unit, threw my winter coat and my old Coach bag on the sofa and, without even taking my Ugg boots off, I proceeded to open it right away. It was so beautifully wrapped, like a delicate little flower. With near surgical precision I peeled off the wrappings and managed to get it out of the box unscathed. When my Chanel bag finally appeared in front of me, I actually teared up, as it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I realized I was crying both from the thrill of owning such a gorgeous piece of art as well as from the overwhelming sense of guilt I got when I saw the price tag. But I wasn’t going to think about money, ‘not now’. I work hard and I feel I need to treat myself to nice things once in a while, therefore, this bag was worth every penny in my opinion. It’s gorgeous, stylish, chic, and it makes me look like a million dollars. My rent was due in a few days and it was going to be tight, but like my Spanish grandmother always used to say: “better dead than understated” . When I finally managed to touch the bag with my own hands, I brought it close to my face, closed my eyes, inhaled that distinct smell that only brand-new luxurious items have, and I started to dream of all the beautiful places I was going to be taking her to. Come to think about it, the only social outing I had coming up was a ski trip with some old friends, but what kind of person do you have to be to carry an exquisite luxury bag on the slopes?
Five or six of my colleagues from my job at the office had organized a day trip to Horseshoe Valley Ski Resort, just an hour away by car from where we all live in the big city, and I was very excited to go. It would be a fun day of skiing and socializing, “and delicious hot chocolate in between runs, yay!”. The morning of the trip I put on my ski gear Canada Goose jacket, insulated pants, goggles, my old shaggy boots, a stylish tuque and my mittens and I stood in front of the mirror to take a look at myself. “Goodness gracious!”, I was horrified at the unflattering white bulky image standing in front of me and I wanted to scream. I looked like the least fashionable skier the world had ever seen and I wasn’t very pleased. I also
laughed at the thought that, if I happened to get lost in the mountain in my everything-white
outfit, I would probably never be found by the rescue teams! I stood there for a moment and a crazy idea came to mind. “If only I could accessorize my look, it would probably improve tenfold, right?”. I ran to grab my Chanel bag, went back in front of the mirror, held the bag close to me and took a second look at myself, doing a twirl. “Perfect!” “But no, I immediately thought, I can’t possibly take a Chanel bag to go skiing outdoors. Or... could I?” The white fluffy faux-fur pom-pom key ring that I had previously attached to it, kind of made it look very après-ski, “wouldn’t you say?” And come to think about it, “didn’t it sort of match the pom-pom on the top of my tuque as well?”
When we all met at the Ski Lodge down at the base of the mountain at the stipulated time to start our fun day of skiing, I noticed that Joshua whom I had a fling with in the past had brought along his new girl. As they got out of the car and I managed to take a good look at her, my jaw dropped to the floor: “the biatch had shown up in a friggin’ fur coat and matching boots! To go skiing!!” She looked like a glamorous Joan Collins during the 80s, strutting around the streets of Aspen, Colorado shaggy coat, full hair and make up, and long skinny legs. She was actually very beautiful, but this was the 21st century, for god’s sakes, and wearing fur ain’t cool, girl. And we were in no Aspen either; this was Ontario, Canada! I just stood there, motionless, on the snow, in my oversized bulky winter coat and my quilted pants, “thick quilted pants, you understand?” looking like I was forty pounds overweight, feeling totally sorry for myself and thinking that I could have at least brought my new Chanel bag with me to make me look a bit more glamorous. “I need to go home”, I thought.
Don’t get me wrong; we are Canadians after all, and we are understanding of our beginnings as a fur trading post during the colonies, but this was just too much to bear. I know fur is one of the oldest forms of clothing and it has been worn by women and men since times immemorial, for its warmth and durability, but nowadays it is widely rejected due to moral concerns for animal rights. “Where has this girl been hiding? Does she not watch the news?”
Most common animal sources for fur clothing and fur accessories are fox, mink, rabbit, beaver, seals, coyotes, wolves, and many more, depending on the geographical location of the fur market, but in her case, I wasn’t really
sure. I don’t really know what kind of animal she had had to slaughter the day before for her coat, but whatever it was, that chinchilla looking pelt was the biggest and hairiest thing I had ever seen. And it looked gorgeous!
During the 50s and 60s, fur clothing was indeed a very much sought after luxury item in fashion, only afforded by the more opulent classes. But then, with the proliferation of animal right activists and organizations who considered both fur hunting and fur farming as very inhumane practices, the general mentality took a sharp shift and the market for real fur started to decline. Anti-fur campaigns became commonplace during the 80s and 90s and many of these activists, some celebrities amongst them were showing up to protest at fashion shows of designers who were still using fur. Cans of red paint were being thrown on people wearing fur both on the runways and on the street and with all the media attention and exposure, consumers started to think twice before buying real fur. On top of that, the proliferation of inexpensive synthetic fabrics for clothing insulation purposes also caused real fur to fall out of fashion. As a direct consequence and as an alternative, consumers started gearing towards the use of “faux fur” or fake fur, a synthetic material that mimics the appearance and feel of real animal hides.
It crossed my mind at the beginning that she could actually be wearing faux fur; but no, it couldn’t be. It looked too real. As the day went by and we did several runs on the slopes, she just could not keep up with everyone else. She had fallen numerous times she was not an advanced skier at all and she started to look dishevelled and even haggard, to the point we had to take a break for her sake. When we all went into the Lodge for a nice cup of hot chocolate, I took a good look at her and, from all the tumbling around she had experienced during the runs, I guess in her hairy coat, she actually looked to me like a ruffled wet chicken with perfect lipstick on. When she took her coat off to dry by the fireplace for a while, I asked her if I could actually try it on. She smiled awkwardly. I plucked up the courage to ask her if it was real fur, and looking at me as if I had seven heads, she replied: “girl, are you nuts?!?!” As soon as I put that synthetic fur on I had a near epiphany experience; I must have been a hunter-gatherer woman in a previous prehistoric life because, let me tell you, wearing this coat felt soooo good!
When I got home that evening from skiing, I headed straight for my bedroom closet to see if someone had broken into my apartment to steal my beautiful Chanel bag, and once I realized everything was ok, I made myself a nice cup of tea and sat comfortably on the couch to relax. Then I quickly got on the computer to google ‘faux fur’, and next thing I knew, I was checking the price comparison app on my mobile phone. Twenty minutes later I had managed to buy myself the most beautiful and luxurious-looking fur coat a human being has ever laid eyes on. Much more beautiful than hers. And when it’d finally arrive home, it was going to be a great addition to the wardrobe I was planning to take with me on my Paris trip, whenever I could save up enough money to buy the airfare.
J. Sanchez-Velo, co-writer Fredson Silva Agudá