Animal welfare organisation PETA has urged the co-chairs of the upcoming Met Gala - Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, singer Dua Lipa, actress Penelope Cruz, actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel and tennis pro Roger Federer - to instruct designers to steer clear of fur, exotic skins and especially feathers. As they have been prominently featured on runways and red carpets recently, PETA is expecting the popular Met Gala to be no exception.
A recent PETA investigation into the feather industry, including ostrich farming and killing, revealed how the animals are often plucked while still alive and how their lifespan of up to 40 years is shortened to just one year. Other birds like pheasants, turkeys, peacocks and ducks fare no better, which has caused many major brands and retailers like France’s SMCP to shy away from feathers.
“It’s past time for designers to get more creative—it’s what fashion is supposed to be all about—to be more innovative, and to stop relying on birds and other animals who suffer terribly for their designs,” said PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in a statement. “PETA is hopeful that the Met Gala sponsors will show compassion to all animals by asking designers to stick to fabulous featherless materials, faux fur and simulated skins.”
The theme of this year’s Met Gala is “In honor of Karl”, a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld. Although Lagerfeld himself was famous for using animal skins and products, his brand banned fur in 2019 (the same year the designer passed away) and exotic skins in 2020.
Using feathers is cruel and burdens environment
Foregoing feathers will also benefit the environment as the production of animal-derived materials requires toxic chemicals and contributes to climate change, land devastation, and water contamination - “on a far, far greater scale” than the production of vegan materials as PETA points out.
In a letter to the five co-chairs that is signed by Newkirk, PETA refers to the popularity and trailblazing role of the event and thus the change it could effect: “The high-profile people in the spotlight at this wonderful event wield enormous influence on the viewing public, so we’re asking that you implement a policy to permit designers only to use vegan feathers, faux fur and simulated skins, for the good of both animals and the environment.”
The co-chairs might be sympathetic to the cause, with most supporting it in their lives: Lipa, for example, prefers faux fur and has been seen wearing vegan brand Stella McCartney while Federer designed his first vegan sneaker with Swiss performance running brand On. Cruz even appeared in one of PETA’s anti-fur ads in 2018 and Coel is vegan.
Of course, only time will tell what happens at this year’s Met Gala and if PETA’s letter could sway any potential feather and fur wearers. However, socialite Kim Kardashian (who describes herself as “mostly plant-based”) may have had a trailblazing effect at last year’s Met Gala when she showed up in a vintage dress once worn by Marilyn Monroe. We will know on 1st May if there will be any copycats.