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French fashion giant Jean Paul Gaultier goes fur-free



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Animal rights groups hailed on Monday Jean Paul Gaultier's announcement that he is joining the growing ranks of fashion designers to ban fur from their collections.

The enfant terrible of French couture announced the decision in a television interview on Saturday, describing the methods used to kill the animals as "absolutely deplorable". "Fur is more sensual than fake fur, but you can find other ways of staying warm," the 66-year-old told Canal+.

Animal campaign group PETA said that "corks are popping" at its headquarters after Gaultier's announcement. "This decision is a sign of the times," its international director Mimi Bekhechi said in a statement. "The vast majority of people want nothing to do with items that have come from animals who were caged and electrocuted or bludgeoned to death."

Brands have come under increasing pressure from both animal rights groups and shoppers themselves to ditch fur, and Gaultier's move follows similar announcements from brands including Armani and Versace.

Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney are also among designers now opting for fake fur or other alternatives. France's leading animal charity, the SPA, said it "hopes Jean Paul Gaultier's example will be quickly followed by other couturiers and brands".

"The breeding conditions and slaughter of these animals represents the worst cruelty," said SPA chief Jacques-Charles Fombonne. PETA activists had targeted Gaultier along with other fashion houses in its anti-fur campaign, invading his Paris store in 2006.

French fur-makers expressed disappointment at his announcement. La Fourrure Francaise, an industry body, said Gaultier's decision was "based on false information peddled as much by animal activists as by the fake fur industry".

"To allow him to make a clear choice, we would be happy to show Jean Paul Gaultier that the breeding and slaughtering techniques respect all European and French regulations on the treatment of animals," the group said.

Since starting out as an assistant to Pierre Cardin, Gaultier has set a pioneering path, introducing older men and fuller women to the catwalk as well as the iconic cone bra immortalised by Madonna.(AFP)

Faux fur
Jean Paul Gaultier