Update: An earlier version of this article stated that the protestors and activists were affiliated with Animal Defenders International. A spokesperson from ADI reached out to R29 with the following statement: "Animal Defenders International produces empirical and scientific evidence of the suffering of animals killed for fur and have strongly urged designers at New York Fashion Week and elsewhere to make the ethical decision and abandon use of fur. ADI was not involved in the demonstration in New York referred to in your article."
On Saturday, at the New York Fashion Week presentation for Olivia Palermo's newest collaboration with Banana Republic, several anti-fur protestors crashed the storefront event, overshadowing what's easily the best collection from the two design camps yet.
As the models — followed by Palermo — strutted out of the store's flagship location and took their places upon a tall structure situated right in the middle of New York's bustling Fifth Avenue, a handful of protestors and activists charged the podium, subsequently knocking down several models due to scuffles with security guards, and yelling things like "Olivia Palermo, how do you sleep at night knowing you're killing animals? Are you that ugly on the inside?" Not since the days of flour bombs and red paint that became seasonal rituals of animal rights group PETA in the '90s have we witnessed such a chaotic display.
As models struggled to stay on their feet atop the podium, some of them being scooped up by event staff, security guards could be seen wrestling the agitators off the stage. Unlike the viral reactions we've seen in runways past from this sort of collision, these models looked panic-stricken, holding on to each other as massive security guards wrangled each protestor to the ground.
While Palermo's latest collection did not include any fur — faux or the real deal — she's been known to wear it in her personal life. Additionally, her website offers a laundry list of Palermo-approved suggestions of leather and fur items by other luxury designers. But it seems the activists aren't having it any longer.
We caught up with a protestor, who goes by "Rob," who agreed to speak with Refinery29 on the record about what had just happened. "Wearing fur is cruel, unfashionable, and outdated — not to mention the exotic animal skin phone cases that she promotes," he said. "We just think that we're at a time that we don't need to be using animals anymore, especially for fashion. It's 2017 and there's no need for it."
"We're getting to a point where, if someone wears fur or they promote these brutal industries, we will be there. And it'll only get worse because more and more of us are coming. And they need to expect their shows to be disrupted," he added. "We've had enough and we're not going to tolerate it anymore." This particular group of protestors were the same who stormed the stage at Michael Kors' talk at the Met in June.
It's unfortunate that these protestors have chosen to stand for their cause through means that carry violent results, specifically violence against women, in this case the models — who we have to reiterate, were not wearing fur. Anti-fur protestors crashing shows at New York Fashion Week are nothing new, but it seems their actions have rarely engendered change on the runways. Perhaps it's time for them to rethink their strategy.