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At the 2021 Met Gala, pop star Billie Eilish appeared on the beige carpet wearing an unexpected ensemble: a custom peach tulle ball gown by Oscar de la Renta. If you’re wondering why a giant dress is so unconventional at a fancy arts benefit, consider the person wearing it. Known for her “goth pop” and green hair, Eilish’s Grace Kelly-inspired look was a departure for the singer and co-chair of the gala. Her dress made waves and earned praise, but it also enacted social change. As a result of her wearing the gown, Oscar de la Renta has agreed to be a fur-free fashion house.
The agreement made with Eilish—a vegan and an animal rights activist—involves the fashion house terminating all fur sales. “It was an honor to wear this dress knowing that going forward oscar de la renta will be completely fur-free!!!!” the singer posted on Instagram.
Although Eilish was undoubtedly a motivating factor in this much-needed change, fur has been on the way out at Oscar de la Renta for a while. Creative directors Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim haven’t used fur in their designs for years because they found it irrelevant and not chic nor modern. The company had still sold fur in its stores, however, so that will change.
There had been other internal calls to stop the use of fur, but Alex Bolen, the brand’s chief executive, had resisted them—until Eilish’s team said that she doesn’t work with labels who use fur. At that point, he realized that it was the right time to stop. “I thought a lot about what Oscar said—he was a big fan of fur, by the way—that the one thing he really worried about in the fashion business was his eye getting old,” Bolen said to The New York Times. “I have to surround myself with people with different points of view.”
For anti-fur activists, there’s still more to do, but Eilish acknowledged that it's a start. “I’m honored to have been a catalyst and to have been heard on this matter,” she shared. “I urge all designers to do the same.”