By Karen Parr-Moody
Fur is certainly one of the best fabrics for warding off the elements and keeping the wearer toasty. But it is rarely worn for practicality alone. As much as a fur coat or accessory is a giver of warmth, it tops off the wearer's fashion statement.
Carol Williams, proprietress of Aunt Enid’s Attic, Booth B-110, always has a bevy of furs among her fabulous vintage wares. The inspiration for her booth is her Aunt Enid, who was a glamorous radio personality in Miami and Atlanta in the ‘40s.
"She traveled the world, wrote books, and interviewed movie stars and famous people on the air while pitching the newest fashion trends for Davison's and Burdine's department stores," Williams says today of her illustrious forebear.
Following in her aunt's footsteps, Williams is a lover of all things glamorous -- including fur.
"I love furs," says Williams. "First of all, I think they add a real touch of glamour to any outfit. And I just kind of like that glam look from 1940s Hollywood."
One piece she currently has at GasLamp is a gorgeous black cord swing cord with a white mink shawl collar and double cuffs. Dated to the era of the late '50s, early '60s, it hails from Seymour Paisin, a widely known and well-respected department store in Chicago that was popular during that time period (photo, right; $450, Aunt Enid's Attic, Booth-110).
"That coat has three-quarter sleeves," says Williams. "I think it would look so good with some crunch gloves up to the elbow."
Another thing Williams loves about the Seymour Paisin coat is that the white mink fur has faint black tips on it. "That's just unbelievable," she says. "I've never seen mink like that. I thought it was just incredible. And the thing about that coat is, in this part of the country it hardly ever gets cold enough to wear a full-length fur, but that coat would be perfect because it's not as heavy as a full-length mink would be."
Another mink-trimmed number she has for sale right now is a fabulous white brocade dress with a matching jacket trimmed in a mink collar. "Isn't that gorgeous?" Williams says of the ensemble, which comes complete with rhinestone button detailing at the waist (photo, left, $125; currently located in the Front Collaboration Booth).
For those who would like to add some fur trim to an existing jacket, coat or sweater, Williams also sells stand-alone collars such as the silver furs in the photo, right (larger fur, $165; smaller fur, $48; both at Booth B-110).
Fur stoles are a fun item to toss on over a cocktail dress or to wear with jeans on a weekend; they're highly versatile. Williams currently features the mink stole in the photo, left, which is from the longtime furrier Peter Duffy in New York City ($145; B-110). It is from the 1930s or 1940s and has an Art Deco construction that features the pelts arranged in a lateral fashion, which is unusual. The color is simply beautiful, and there are nice hand-warming pockets in the front.
Williams not only sells vintage furs, she wears them herself, including real and faux.
"I have a faux leopard swing coat that I got for $5 in a thrift store on Nolensville Road," she says. "I wear that with leggings, with jeans; I wear it a lot. And right now I'm wearing a little mink jacket I bought at an antique store in Ohio. It's the warmest coat I have, I wear it all the time."
Williams also thinks that buying vintage fur is a more guilt-free alternative to contemporary fur. Since the animal has been dead for decades, it isn't part of the contemporary supply chain. She also thinks vintage fur is a smart financial choice.
"I think you get a better quality, for sure, and of course the value for the price is incredible," she says. "It's the warmest thing you're ever going to wear. If you're in a cold climate or if you want to go to a football game and stay warm, that's the thing to wear. The Eskimos, that's what they do, they wear fur!"