Billie Eilish’s Met Gala dress was so many things. It was a gorgeous ode to old Hollywood, of course. It was a huge departure from her usual baggy garments emblazoned with designer logos. It was a larger-than-life, 15-foot skirt that turned the singer into the Belle of the Met Ball. But there was also a quiet political statement behind it. While other celebrities wore their messages on their sleeves (“Peg the Patriarchy,” demanded Cara Delevingne), Billie was taking action behind the scenes.
When Eilish approached Oscar de la Renta about making a Met Gala gown, she not only came with style references, including Marilyn Monroe and Holiday Barbies, but also an ultimatum: stop using fur.
Fur has actually been absent from the label’s runway shows in recent years—the brand’s creative directors, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, don’t find it “chic, modern, or relevant,” according to The New York Times. Still, despite pleas from the public and his own wife and mother-in-law, Oscar de la Renta’s chief executive officer, Alex Bolen, insisted they continue to sell fur in stores as it makes up a “meaningful amount of sales and profit.”
It was Eilish, though, who finally convinced Bolen to do away with the practice. “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 told the Times about his ultimate decision.
Oscar de la Renta now joins a long list of luxury brands that have come out as anti-fur over the past few years. Versace, Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani, and more major labels no longer use fur in their clothes. In September 2018, the British Fashion Council announced that fur would not be present at all during London Fashion Week. In June, the Neiman Marcus Group pledged they would discontinue selling fur products in stores and online by early 2023. Along with that announcement, they will shut down their 22 fur salons across all their stores, including the salon in Bergdorf Goodman.
Eilish, for her part, finds it “shocking that wearing fur isn’t completely outlawed at this point in 2021.” She told the Times, “I’m honored to have been a catalyst and to have been heard on this matter.”