Furry nice news for the winter
When you see the editors of British Vogue and the fashion director of the Daily Telegraph, plus at least a dozen other, high-profile members of the fashion commentariat, clad in fur (Alexandra Shulman in a Marc Jacobs black coat with mink collar; Hilary Alexander in Chanel mink hood), it is a sure sign that fur is having a moment.
That particular moment was in February at the A/W 2010 collections, when fur was being strutted all over the catwalks in the form of shearling coats, gilets, complexion-enhancing tippets and collars, aviator jackets plus cuffs, pom-poms, hats and every other furry embellishment designers could conjure.
With the Met Office predicting that this winter is set to be the coldest for 31 years, it was a perfect storm. And it makes the oceans of fur - real and faux - in the shops a worthwhile investment.
For those who want a relatively unostentatious way to wear real fur, shearling is both up to the minute and deliciously warm. Nicole Farhi has a sublime, three-quarter length shearling coat in dark chocolate at £1,550, while Matches has a shearling jacket by Drome at £1,068.
There's also plenty of shearling at the "skinted" end of the price spectrum, including a drape jacket from Oasis at £80 and a three-quarter length drape coat in sea green by Mint Velvet (£125). Jackets and coats made entirely of fake fur are definitely having a fashion moment, thanks in part to the 1950s/60s Mad Men vibe. Look for short faux-fur coats across the high street - Topshop, Oasis, New Look, Warehouse and M&S all have them, and House of Fraser has a very pretty one at £120. One of the most authentic-looking 1950s coats is by vintage label Love Miss Daisy at £175.
Riding the 70s revival, fur gilets are another strong look, though I question the wisdom of a coat with no sleeves when it's minus 10°. Browns has a three-quarter length gilet in black Mongolian lamb at £295, while Matches has an über-glam pink one by Itlaian label MSGM at £605. And there are stylish ones on the high street, including at M&S, (£120 from Per Una Speziale), Monsoon (£75) and Lipsy (£65). Interestingly, this season's fur offerings are not confined to fake. There is more of the real thing around than at any time since that pernicious, arguably antisemitic, 1980s campaign waged by PETA, which drove fur off the streets and dozens of, mainly Jewish, furriers out of business.
If you need evidence of this resurgence, Browns has Lanvin's patchwork fur coat and jacket (respectively, £8,975 and £7,200), as well as a Marc Jacobs mixed fur jacket at £3,190, and a mouthwateringly beautiful Burberry Prorsum trenchcoat, lavished with fur and shearling at £2,795. Matches has real fur adorning the collar of a stunning military coat by Yves Saloman and a ladylike wool coat by Marc Jacobs.
Those ultra-flattering, fur-collar coats crop up on the high street, too, including a deeply glamorous blonde coat by French Connection (£220), a neat, belted tweed coat by Oasis (£120) and a khaki military coat at Topshop (£130).
You can also give your coat a touch of ladylike polish and styling (as well as keeping your neck warm on chilly mornings) with a fur tippet or collar. My best buy of the season so far is a fake fur tippet from Oasis. At £25, it is cheap as chips and has revived at least one coat which had been destined for the local All Aboard shop.
There are luxury fake fur tippets and collars by MaxMara (£138 at Matches), from M&S's Per Una Speziale (£120) and from LK Bennett (£145). Budget ones at River Island (£24.99) and Topshop (£25). ASOS has tippets, stoles and collars, all under £35, but you have to be quick. They sell out fast.