The Canadian fur industry held a Fur and Fashion Exposition in Montreal and many came. A major part of the festivities, as you might have seen from the cover in living black and white, was a fashion show in a hotel downtown. Featured in the show was Canada’s premier Native designer, D’Arcy Moses. Moses is Dene from the Northwest Territories.

Another Native designer, but not of the clothing variety, Ted Moses of Eastmain, also made the scene. There were countless other big names present but I can’t recall their names. They were, no doubt, giants in their chosen fields. Oh… PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) also put in a surprise appearance. Zeb, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen.

Anyway… there was fur. Fur everywhere.

Fur coats. Fur hats. Fur slacks. Fur gloves.

Fur capes. Fur trains. Fur bows. “Recycled” fur. Fur blankets. Fur scarves and even something that looked like a fur wedding dress. And let’s not forget the dyed fur that came in a myriad of colors. There was also the industry’s latest technological marvel, washable fur.

In compliance with the Native content regulations of this journal I mustn’t fail to mention that some of the designs clearly showed Native American influences. Feathers and beads dangled from one ankle-length jacket. On another jacket’s hem were the distinctive lines of an Inuit dual-purpose amautik.

D’Arcy Moses’ coats with their long fringes were imprinted with birds, plants, crests which remind me now of the Hudson’s Bay Company old logo and finally black circles divided into the four colours of mankind (humankind?), black, white yellow and red.

All the designs were geared towards women so you’ll forgive me if I felt left out Surely, an industry that can come up with washable fur can also make fur boxer shorts for men in the cold territories. Come to think of it… there was one outrageous outfit that would have looked good on either sex. Had not the weird headgear come attached it would have looked like one of those suits downhill skiers wear to the Olympics. But I digress.

A majority of the designers were more conservative. Aiming for the Park Avenue ladies on their way to the Opera. That’s New York’s Park Avenue, not Montreal’s lesser known but no less fashionable Avenue du Parc.

The audience seemed to enjoy the parade, applauding noisily now and then. During a lull half-way through the show when the lights were dim, a lady sitting a few rows from the catwalk got up from her seat and almost stumbled onto the stage, all the while unfolding a poster bearing a graphic photograph of a skinned animal and holding it up for the crowd to see. I have no idea who her designer was but she was wearing the always-chic black blazer with matching slacks, a white top for contrast and (gasp!) leather shoes.

Two huge well-dressed men dashed towards her. Her upheld poster was swatted from her hands and she was dragged off the stage and behind the huge black curtain kicking, twisting and squirming like some trapped wild animal. She was never to be seen or heard from again. She is now, no doubt, a living legend in animal rights circles.

All this happened in the space of a few seconds so more than a handful of people were confused, thinking, Is this part of the show? Is this the way fashion aficionados react when they don’t like the way someone is dressed? But she was only a mole from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or one of the groups responsible for the anti-fur demonstration winding down just outside the hotel’s doors. Some of the protestors were so apathetic and misinformed about Natives and their hunting lifestyles that one woman when asked about them shot back, “I don’t give a shit about their culture,” while another replied angrily, “They’re all on welfare!”

Two of her fellow protestors seemed embarassed and distanced themselves from her remark. Someone told me I winced when I heard one of the comments. Did it hurt that much? I don’t recall. But I do remember someone once saying, “I’ve been called worse by better people.”

After the distressing episode on the catwalk, the fashion police were acting more vigilant and I couldn’t help but notice that they were looking at me and my companions more often while whispering into their mikes. All because we weren’t dressed for the occasion.

All in all it made for an interesting and exciting evening. I fled when the house lights came on and went happily back to my fashion-deprived suburban existence.

Meanwhile, outside at the anti-fur protest.

What would you say to the native trapper? BELINDA BOUHCHI They kill for luxury. (Asked about her leather boots…) I saw them and they were too nice! LISA LIBARIAN Get a real Job. I don’t give a shit about their culture.

LAURA COPELAND Why, I’ve actually never had this question asked before… I’d tell them it’s cruel and unnecessary. There’s no point in wearing fur. It’s just vanity. No matter how it’s trapped.

CLIFF LANA: They’re being exploited by the fur industry. And even if they are hunting for personal reasons, Native trapping only makes up 5 per cent of all trapping.

ANDRIA LEMAY Native people don’t hunt. They are all on welfare.

VANNESSA FLANNERY I don’t really know if they exploit animals or not. I’d ask if they respect the animals, and then I’d make my judgement.