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Activists call for a fur-free West Hollywood

Nearly 200 animal-rights activists take to a corner with picket signs and slogans, urging the famously progressive city to ban sales of fur.

January 30, 2011|By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times
  • Animal rights supporters model clothing made of faux fur and other animal-free alternatives during a demonstration in West Hollywood.
Animal rights supporters model clothing made of faux fur and other animal-free… (Luis Sinco, Los Angeles…)

In West Hollywood, critters are king.

Stores are forbidden to sell dogs and cats, there's a ban on de-clawing felines and a city ordinance states that animals are not "owned" — they are cared for by guardians.

On Saturday, residents rallied around yet another animal-friendly campaign, this one directed at local apparel shops.

Nearly 200 people crowded onto the northwest corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards to demand that the West Hollywood City Council prohibit the sale of fur in town. Holding signs with photos of animals and slogans such as "fur only looks good on her" — a fox, in this case — they elicited honks of encouragement from motorists rushing by.

Organizers of the Fur Free WeHo campaign said they believed the law would be an easy pitch because the city has few stores that sell fur.

"This is the opportunity everyone in West Hollywood has been waiting for," said Shannon Keith, 37, an animal-rights attorney who directed a documentary on the fur industry. Keith said she visited fur farms incognito and found an egregious form of animal cruelty. "They live their whole lives cooped up in these tiny cages only to then be pulled out, electrocuted and skinned alive."

City Council candidate John D'Amico said fur sales go against West Hollywood's progressive reputation. He has promised to introduce legislation for the ban if he's elected March 8.

"Why do you need to have a fur collar on your down coat?" D'Amico said.

Longtime resident and designer Julia Gerard — who has dressed the likes of Cher and Prince — said there's an animal-free corner of the fashion industry that could thrive if real fur were taken off the market. Flanked at Saturday's event by models wearing her creations, including a faux mink and leopard jacket, she insisted that people touch the fabric.

"These can be made so beautifully," said Gerard, 56.

But Patrick DiLascia, designer of the menswear line DiLascia's Bakery, said that although his West Hollywood flagship store sticks to the vegan version of fur, he'll always love the luxury of the real stuff. "Oh my god, it's like heaven," he said about his black leather jacket trimmed in rabbit fur.

DiLascia, 31, said he's disturbed by the images he's seen of cruelty on fur farms, but believes outlawing fur is excessive. "Then what are we going to do, ban leather?"

corina.knoll@latimes.com

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