Eve was the first fashion designer. When the knowledge that she was naked dawned on her after her tart tatin, I suspect that a fig leaf wasn’t the first thing she thought of. Around them strutted animals replete with style – the leopard, the peacock, the zebra.

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The early history of fashion is entirely of humankind clad in the skins and feathers of animals. The North American Indian combine the skin of the doe with the feathers of the eagle to create. The Fuegians combine bark, fish skins, furs and cowries to fantastic effect.

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Contemporary fashion has rejected the use of animal with the exception of leather. And there is so much leather. But we still yearn to cloak ourselves in the skin of animals, whether to show our domination of the natural world or to attempt to return to the natural by simulating a creature in sympathy to nature.

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The feather dresses of Alexander McQueen redefine this relationship. Vacillating between decoration and imitation, the tailored cloaking of the female form transforms the body into the bird.

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What do animals think? They certainly have opinions of us, most probably summed up as fear. To see your fellow species dissected and reconstituted as shoes or jackets or a hat would instil fear in even the most fearless animal.
The artist Miguel Vallinas has clothed are animal brethren in our most fashionable clothing. “Second Skins” looks at draping animals with our own personalities.
As much as we may preach the respect for the lives of animals, we still strive to shed the banality of our skin for the lives of animals.

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