Ruffling feathers is what the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is known for. But the animal welfare organization doesn’t want to see feathers of any kind on the red carpet at one of the year’s biggest fashion events.
PETA sent a letter to Met Gala co-chairs Anna Wintour, Dua Lipa, Roger Federer, Penelope Cruz and Michaela Coel urging them to instruct designers to steer clear of fur, exotic skins and particularly feathers as they’ve been featured on runways and red carpets in recent months.
The message may work well with most of the co-chairs; Dua Lipa has been known to rock faux fur, Federer created a vegan sneaker with On Running, Cruz once appeared in a PETA anti-fur campaign and Coel is a vegan herself. But the face of the Costume Institute Benefit, Wintour, is a well-documented “furrier darling.”
“It’s past time for designers to get more creative—it’s what fashion is supposed to be all about—to be more innovative, and to stop relying on birds and other animals who suffer terribly for their designs,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said. “PETA is hopeful that the Meta Gala sponsors will show compassion to all animals by asking designers to stick to fabulous featherless materials, faux fur and simulated skins.”
The benefit takes place annually on the first Monday in May and marks the opening of The Costume Institute’s spring exhibition—this year, “Karl Lagerfield: A Line of Beauty”—and provides the department with its primary source of funding. This year’s gala is a tribute to the late Chanel designer, and though he was criticized (by PETA) for using animal products for years, his brand banned fur in 2019 and exotic skins in 2020. PETA urged the co-chairs to remember this and “honor this progress” in their directives to designers.
As with all of PETA’s diatribes, the request to phase out feathers is based on an investigation conducted by the nonprofit. In September 2015, PETA sleuths traveled to South Africa to gain footage inside the world’s largest ostrich slaughter companies, including the exclusive supplier of ostrich skins for Hermès Birkin bags. The investigators reported seeing ostriches being lined up and forced into small stun boxes before having their throats slit. Feathers were ripped out of the ostriches’ skin while they were still fully conscious.
“The influence of just one celebrity who wears feathers on the famed Met Gala red carpet could lead to immense suffering for thousands of birds—and, of course, in the cases of fur and exotic skins, enormous cruelty to other animals is involved in the procurement,” Newkirk wrote in the letter to the co-chairs. “In addition to causing suffering and death, the production of animal-derived materials requires toxic chemicals and contributes to climate change, land devastation and water contamination on a far, far greater scale than the production of vegan materials.”
The Met did not immediately respond to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.