Furs: high fashion or cruelty?

  • 2000-11-30
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Nijole Velickiene, christened by the mass media as the "queen of Lithuanian furs," presented her new collection of furs, Nijoles Kailiai (Nijole's furs), this November. Velickiene is the owner of the Nijole fur clothing chain. She says her intention is to make Vilnius the fur capital of the world of high fashion. Lithuanian high society attended Nijole's presentation of her new line of furs at the Vilnius Opera House. However, several teenagers came to protest against furs, calling it "cruel fashion."

Velickiene has created something of a fur empire in Lithuania. President Valdas Adamkus, former President Algirdas Brazauskas and many other political, art and business celebrities attended Nijole's presentation of her 2001 line. The fashion show was billed as "Alter Ego" and enjoyed the official patronage of Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas. The Lithuanian establishment gave a standing ovation to "New Gothic," "Glamour of Hollywood" and 14 other new, colorful collections for the year 2001.

Nijole's furs span all the colors of the rainbow. Nijole products aren't exclusively for winter wardrobes. The nipples of young women were occasionally visible during the presentation.

Even Fashion TV, the worldwide network watched by 300 million viewers, showed the latest Nijole collection remote from Vilnius Opera House. The network televises fashion 24 hours a day.

All of Lithuania's greatest fashion designers described Nijole's latest collection as "beautiful." Velickiene didn't contradict their taste on the matter, of course. "Modern technologies allow the creation of masterpieces which were only possible to dream of in the past," Velickiene said.

Several teenagers didn't find the beauty in Nijole's fur art, however. They protested against the fashion show near the entrance to the Opera House. Their poster read: "Cruelty: Is it feminine?" Teenagers said that they're against the production of clothes made from animals. Police didn't interfere.

"We applaud this youth protest. We're not fun-damentalists and we don't protest if some farmer makes clothes for himself from sheep. In general, however, we're against fur clothes on principle. Snobs can enjoy clothes made from artificial materials in these modern times," Linas Vainius, deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Green Movement, told The Baltic Times.

"It wouldn't be intriguing if not for such protests. The Lithuanian protesters were very polite. They didn't throw pies," commented Valentin Yudashkin, one of the leading Russian designers, who was in attendance.

Another famous guest from Moscow was more categorical. "Greens mean politics. They're manipulated by various forces," stated Alexander Dosman, president of the Russian High Fashion Federation.

Despite the minor protest, the fur clothing line Nijoles Kailiai successfully advertises its business on TV. The TV-ad jingle goes: "Nijole's furs - basic instinct."

Velickiene said that she wants to make Lithuania the world's leader in high fashion fur clothing. Nijole's newest collection, presented in Vilnius, is to be shown in Moscow soon. The collection is also to be presented in Paris, Milan and New York later.

Velickiene said that her main business interest lies in Russia. Rich Russians like to visit Nijole's shops that have opened for business in Russia's larger cities. "I understand the Russian consumer. I love Russian women.

"Their nation understands real values genetically," Velickiene said.