Adonis in Furs?

"Fur Men" by Mario Testino and Carine Roitfeld collaboration for Vogue Hommes International , Spring/Summer 2008

Illustrations by Mark Karl Hughes

Mark Karl Hughes, Hot Punk: ‘Billy Idol’

Having been pondering the fascination that some artists and image-makers have with fur on naked female flesh, my thoughts moved to the male equivalent. Mario Testino re-wrote the book on men in furs with incredible élan in 2008, with his ‘Fur Men’ story for Vogue Hommes International Spring-Summer edition 2008, in collaboration with Carine Roitfeld on the styling front. The lead models was Oliver Cheschire. Little has come close to it since.  Some of the images are better than others – there is a little bit of pretty boy dressing in mummy’s fur coat (never a look) but as far as furs swishing with testosterone-packed eroticism in arguably the greatest men’s style magazines, it’s the best.  I wanted Mark Karl Hughes to play with this .... in his words, to bring a bit of Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski to a contemporary fur collection for men. Here is a series of drawings that riff not only on Testino’s images but develop other possibilities. It’s not just Testino; we have a Galliano runway look in there too and the last is his version of the Todd Lynn fox shoulder-piece from 2008; a great drawing. It’s as if Tom of Finland had morphed with Antonio, discarded so much of the mostly minor doings in fashion illustrations since the 80s and placed sex and beauty back centre stage.

Mark Hughes: ‘It’s about a masculine approach to fur: the ‘call of the wild’ if you like, back to the caveman. A caveman punk.  But this work is also about glamourous men ... the peacock male.  The idea of Elvis or Brando as a sixteenth century courtier or soldier. I read how Elvis’s stagewear for Las Vegas was instigated by a conversation with Liberace!

‘I feel that fur needs dirtying up a little. It needs a little oil or mud rubbing through it to give it some texture. The Earl of Essex goes to meet Tyrone and gets mud on his fur collar. I would love to base a whole collection on this notion, where fur is treated the way an ordinary fabric is treated. I like the idea of torn fur repaired from behind with an inferior fabric with burlap or denim or linen....I’ve always been drawn to the slashing trend that existed for over a 100 years before turning into the more moderate paned effect (started by The Battle of Hunsdon in 1476.) For me glamour, punk, camp with heavy masculinity are a real turn on.’

Hunger Games - Adonis hunts with a bow, swathed in  leopardskin, by the British artist James Northcote.

Elvis Presley as the Earl of Leicester, 16C courtier and man of action, in denim slashed doublet with a huge mud-spattered red fox collar.Mark Karl Hughes.

Elvis added a touch of Liberace to his  swagger Vegas look, Mark Karl Hughes

Mark Karl Hughes’s riff on a fur jacket and boots, ‘Fur Men’ Vogue Hommes International, S/S 2008, Mario Testino and Carine Roitfeld

‘Fur Men’ Vogue Hommes International, S/S 2008, Mario Testino and Carine Roitfeld

Fur with denim – ‘I’ll get you a satanic mechanic!’. Mark Karl Hughes develops this season’s Givenchy mink sports towel idea, worn with black jeans.

‘Fur Men’: Oliver Cheschire, Vogue Hommes International, S/S 2008, Mario Testino and Carine Roitfeld

From pocket to thong; how versatile are you? Denim patch on a fox jerkin/doublet, with black jeans and black leather gloves, by Mark Karl Hughes

‘Fur Men’ Vogue Hommes International, S/S 2008, Mario Testino and Carine Roitfeld

Mark Karl Hughes, ‘Huge fox Davy Crockett and Levi’s style 501 thong.’ Inspired by Galliano, A/W 2011-2012

A feather in his cap: massive cartoon-size Davy Crockett hat for Galliano A/W 2011-2012

Streetstyle: Mark Karl Hughes’ illustration inspired by Todd Lynn’s fox scarf, A/W2007 - 2008, worn with jogging pants and trainers, October 2014

Todd Lynn, A/W 2007 – 2008. One of the most original and contemporary looks with Saga fox fur in menswear for years.

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