"Fashion in Films" by our own Mary Ann concludes today with the second part of her article, "White Fox Fur."
(Still of Marlene Dietrich courtesy of
"White Fox Fur"
by Mary Ann
MINK. A mink coat is the coat to many women. Minks are a member of the weasel family and the word is Swedish meaning "stinking animal." The term refers to the musky scent the animal gives off. Although they are found in the wild almost everywhere in North America and in some parts of the world, the majority of mink is ranched. Female mink are smaller and have softer, lighter pelts than the males and more pelts are needed for garments. It is just as warm, however, although the weight may be lighter. Wild mink is chocolate brown to black in color. Mink that is ranched or raised comes in a variety of colors in addition to brown or black. Dark brown minks are called mahogany, medium brown minks are called lunarine, and light brown minks are called demi-buff. There are also pure white and bluish-grey minks.
BEAVER. Beavers are an aquatic animal with shiny,coarse guard hair and soft, exceptionally thick underfur. The color range is wide. It may be dark brown on the back, shading to pale golden brown on the sides, or the entire fur may be pale or even silvery. Beaver fur has long been used for coats and hats as well as other garments. During the 19th century, beaver was so valuable that pelts were burned in order to keep the price up. Wearers of beaver coats were considered to be of a certain class or status.
MARTEN. Marten belong to the weasel family, along with mink and sable. Marten need care and treatment to wear well and stay fluffy. Types of marten are:
. . . American Marten: American Marten have very long guard hairs and dense, fine underfur. Color ranges are from blue brown to dark brown. It may also be pale brown or yellow with orange tones.
. . . Baum Marten: This marten is native to Europe and the Himalayas. They are naturally brown in color. Used for coats or the whole skin may be used as scarves and "little furs."
. . . Stone Marten: Come from approximately the same place as Baum Marten. The fur is also similar but is much finer. The best stone marten have a bluish cast to the fur and the underfur is whitish. Uses are the same as the Baum Marten.
SABLE. Sable are actually marten--the finest, most luxurious and most expensive marten. Prime sable has even, silvery tipped guard hairs, making it even silkier than mink. The color is rich brown with a blue cast. Golden sable, which is reddish or amber color, is less expensive--but warm and light in weight as it is heavy in price. The best sable comes from Barguzin in Russia, and to this day Russia has a government monopoly on sable. During czarist times in Russia a good portion of the imperial family's income came from the sale of sable, except that the royal family sold sable only to other crowned heads. The finest sable, Barguzin sable, was reserved for the czar and his family's use, which is why it is called crown or imperial sable.
. . . ERMINE used to be the fur of royalty, for whom it was reserved as a symbol of virtue and purity. Both the robes and crown that Elizabeth II wore for her coronation were trimmed in ermine. Ermine is actually a weasel that is found in many countries and climates, both in Europe and North America. The fur is a brownish grey in summer; but, as winter comes, it changes to a snowy white that changes, in spring, to a shade of yellow.
. . . FISHER is also a marten, the American cousin of the Russian sable. The fur ranges from brown to black and it is soft and silky fur. Fisher is very durable and is used for coats, "little furs," and scarves.
. . . FITCH fur comes in several natural colors. White fitch is native to Siberia. It is the best and very expensive. Fitch also comes from Germany, Austria, and Poland. This fitch is dark in color, with the best Polish fitch having distinctive stripes. Fitch is less durable than mink but it will wear well with care.
There are many more types of fur in addition to the furs described above; and, though we do not dress the same way as people did in the 1930's and 1940's, it can be a lot of fun enjoying these two decades through old films and their fashions. So, whether you just watch old films for the story and plot or drool over the clothing in these films, take a look at the large number of fur coats, jackets, stoles and accessories that had a heyday during this time period.
(This still of a lynx coat is courtesy
Minks are weasels?!
Does this mean that the
next time I think somebody
is a weasel . . . does that mean
I'm complimenting them?!
Or that I want to see their hides
hanging on the old barn door?!?!