February 28, 2000 12:00 PM

Fur Brigade

As the temperature dips and the taste for deluxe dressing soars, many stylish celebs who once shunned real fur are now warming up to the stuff. “Opulence is definitely in,” says stylist Phillip Bloch, who has dressed Salma Hayek and Angela Bassett. “It’s about being posh.”

Thanks to new shearing techniques, this year’s furs—such as Pamela Dennis’s snug olive rabbit top and Randolph Duke’s houndstooth-patterned fox coat—are light-weights compared to Grandma’s musty mink. Fur today “just lends itself to a younger audience,” says designer Christina Perrin, whose rabbit coat has been worn by actress Bai Ling.

Not everyone approves of the trend of course, as activists for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demonstrated by throwing pies and paint at the runways at pelt-friendly Duke and Michael Kors collections during the recent fall fashion shows in New York City. But the protesters) appeared to win few converts. “I love fur!” says singer Mary J. Blige. “It symbolizes things I never had, like money. I feel like I’ve accomplished something; I’ve got fur.”

behind the seams

The New York Fashion Week Files

So much fashion, so little time! At the celeb-packed shows, where designers unveiled their Fall 2000 collections, good-time gal Gwyneth Paltrow sipped champagne on a girlfriend’s lap backstage before Calvin Klein’s show and then took a front-row seat beside Julia Roberts, where the Pretty Woman admired Paltrow’s pointy-toed tan boots. The bonding buddies gabbed and giggled nonstop, coming up for air only to gaze at Brazilian megamodel Gisele Bündchen and then whisper to each other while sizing up the runway sensation….

I know Sarah Jessica Parker‘s secret for keeping her stamina up while hitting show after show: She subsisted on protein bars, which she asked one backstage assistant to fetch for her….

Parker’s Sex and the City costar Kristin Davis stuck close to her as they viewed John Bartlett’s line—for good reason. “Sarah Jessica is my fashion idol; she knows so much more than I do,” said Davis. “She always gives me tips. Don’t wear panty hose, that’s the big one. And I’m always supposed to wear strappy shoes. One year she told me earrings were out, but now that’s over. I think earrings are back in. So I have to check in with her a lot.”…

Rapper Lil’ Kim, partying at M.A.C’s Viva Glam III fashion-week fete, admitted she’s a high-maintenance gal. “I need two full hours before any event,” she said, in part to choose her outfit. “I have a lot of stuff. I never could really have too much. I’m always like, ‘I need more!’ That’s because fashion is always changing.”….

Star Trek: Voyager’s Jeri Ryan can relate. She showed up at Fashion Week decked out in spanking-new duds by Prada and Dolce & Gabbana. “I just went on a shopping spree in L.A., where I dropped 20 grand in an hour!” she declared at the Richard Tyler show….

Also at Richard Tyler was Suzanne Somers, admitting she has no clue how to play the celeb card for free designer clothes. “I pay retail,” she said. “Isn’t that stupid?”

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