If celebrities seem to be feeling warm and fuzzy these days, perhaps it's because mohair has made a comeback. Soft touch Mariah Carey joined the red-sweater set at Isaac Mizrahi's recent fashion show in Manhattan, while Madonna looked pretty in pink at a New York Knicks game. In Los Angeles, Margaret Cho wore a white number to an awards banquet. Purrs Lara Flynn Boyle, who made a splash at last month's California Designer of the Year awards in a bustier festooned with blue fuzzy trim: "It brings out the sex kitten in me."
Packed away in mothballs since its heyday in the '50s and '60s, mohair—a shiny, woolly fabric woven from the silky coats of young angora goats—was revived this year when designers such as Anna Sui and Richard Tyler began turning out everything from hirsute handbags to shaggy suits. Johnny Depp furthered the fad by slipping into angora—a close cousin of mohair made from rabbit fur—for his recent Ed Wood role as the cross-dressing director. "The look is unabashedly sexual," explains designer Ty Moore of the L.A. label Van Buren. "Who can resist anything that oozes such femininity and glamor?"
Still, the stresses of caring for mohair are daunting. The fabric tangles easily and needs constant handstroking, since the skin's oils help maintain mohair's sheen. For the allergy-ridden, some believe mohair should be refrigerated to combat shedding. And it can be itchy. For Cho, the problems are outweighed by the pleasures of wearing such ethereal material. "It's not just a fabric," she says. "It's more like a whisper."