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McCartney backs anti-fur fashion

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Fur appeared in many collections during winter 2002

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The revival of fur on the catwalks for winter 2002 shows that animal rights activists are having difficulty converting the fashion industry.

But they have a strong advocate in British designer Stella McCartney.

McCartney opened her first store in Manhattan's meatpacking district -- an odd choice for such a well-known animal rights campaigner.

Her compassion towards animals is reflected in her work, which avoids not only fur, but all animal products.

"Everything in [my] store and every single garment and accessories that you see is cruelty free in the sense no animal has died to make anything in here," she said.

"I just think that a lot of people out there don't want products that an animal has had to die for."

While she appreciates the beauty of fur, she prefers "to feel it on a living creature than as a dead piece of fabric." McCartney's late mother, Linda, was also an animal activist, and produced a vegetarian food range.

Stella McCartney's views are similar to French actress Brigitte Bardot, once often photographed in fur but now a strident animal advocate.

"When I used to wear fur I didn't realise what I was wearing. It was beautiful and I didn't think about it. I didn't think about the suffering, torture and death that were behind it.

"Once I realised, I refused to ever wear a fur again," said the former sex symbol.

Bardot has spent the past few decades persuading governments that animals have rights too.

"We don't need fur to survive. We don't live in caves any more. We have central heating, air conditioning, carpets, cosy flats.

"I don't understand how we can kill -- raise first and then kill -- just for a superficial luxury. They are inncocent yet condemned to gas chambers. They way in which we kill them is terrifying."

Karl Lagerfeld, who used fur extensively in his winter 2002 collection defends the practice: "It should be handled in the nicest way but as long as we eat meat and wear leather, I don't even think there is a subject to discuss."

But fur's revival this season demonstrates that the animal right message is facing difficulty getting through to fashion industry.

Even McCartney's impact is limited. Her label is 50 percent owned by Gucci which profits from selling leather handbag -- a fabric McCartney is against.

Yet she sees her stance as a positive step for activists.

"I'm a firm believer in infiltrating from within really," McCartney said.



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