Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Gosh, I miss fur!

This probably sounds weird for Americans, but I grew up in Siberia, in the place where fur is nether luxury no whim. Where I grew up the winter was 6 months long, which means that half of the times I hugged my mom my nose ended up buried in her silver fox collar. I still vividly remember this feeling: cool, often moist from melting snow, soft, fluffy fur. I just talk to my parents, it’s -36C there. I can see mom going to work in the morning in her long luscious chestnut-brown mink, and my father is putting on his tall Russian ear-flaps sable hat – his sable is mature, silvering, and same as dad’s hair.

There is something magical in touching fur, and I miss it here, in Canada. At first I was happy to get rid of my natural sheepskin winter coat and switch to synthetics. Natural furs are mighty heavy, my shoulders ached all the time. But now I wake up sometimes longing for this familiar feeling: a fur against my skin. Different sort of nostalgia.

From the time I was a child fur was all around me. When you were little there were children’s furs: ubiquitous rabbit (I think every boy had a black rabbit hat with ear-flaps) – very soft, weak, thin and nondurable. And for girls – gray winter squirrel: not your nasty big city squirrels, that shabby dumpster-divers, but coming from the northern forest, soft, smooth, with fluffy undercoat, also not very durable, but children’s fur didn’t need a long life span. Children grow fast.

Then the grown-up furs came. Foxes are first, of course. Arctic fox – the fluffiest one, always greyish-white (in good old times nobody thought about dyeing natural fur), makes impressive tall hats and very warm collars. Red fox wasn’t very popular in my times, but silver fox was always valued. My mom always had a silver-fox collar and she looked spectacular in it. Silver fox looks really dramatic with the shiny silver long hair running over the black undercoat in a subtle frosty pattern.

Young girls usually opted for a warm wool coat with a fluffy fur collar or boa. The whole fox coat would be too expensive and too heavy for everyday use. But the hats were usually all-fur and huge, often with real tails. And native girls from wealthy families wore very nice pieces with embroidery and beaded insets.

I designed my winter coat myself. It was made of gorgeous royal-blue wool, fairy simple cut, but it was trimmed with snow-white mink and had white buttons. People called me Snegurochka and stop me on the street to take my pictures. Minks are really nice: silky and shiny, but with a huge color range and a bad farm rep (All this city horror legends: “Do you know that farmers feed hobos to minks?”) I never really liked mink. It was too…. mass-production for me. Ridiculous, of course, like all other furs I wore didn’t come from farms, right? But I disliked mink for a long time and the only fur I disliked even more was karakul. I probably learned too early that it made of a skin of unborn lambs and it threw me off. Again: ridiculous and hypocritical, since my girlfriends often tell me stories sort of how her dad took her to the arctic fox farm and asked her literally to choose a fox and she pointed the fluffiest one and the next time she saw the little guy he was a hat and a collar.

this is a real sable

As a real Siberian girl I think the sable is the best. Nothing like it. When your hand is striking a sable fur, the sensation is almost orgasmic. It’s silky and firm at the same time, the undercoat is thick and deep and coat is so shiny it almost sparkles under the light. This feeling is incredibly sensual. The best one is heavy, mature, very dark, almost like a burned sugar, nothing like that red rusty thing you often see now, with gray hair, running through the fur like hoarfrost. You should put it in your list of the things to do before you die: To get naked and roll over a sable coat.

Now all this is gone. The only thing rest is my hair color. I call it as I used to: whatever language I speak it’s “winter sable” for me. Gosh I miss furs! Sometimes I look at kittens with very ambiguous emotion. This is the most politically incorrect feeling I have and I am not going to get rid of it.


  1. you know how Valentina, the great American designer (of Russian descend, naturally) of the 40s put it once? Meeeeenk..?? Mink is for football. ;)

  2. She probably liked chinchilla :)

  3. My dad has a fur hat from Russia, not sure what kind it is though... But it's beautiful- dark chocolate brown, sleek and soft. My family (grandparents) are origianlly from there. My father visited often and would bring back the best presents! Russian momma dolls, gorgeous amber jewlrey - but no fur, lol. I would -love- to visit! Great post!!!