The fur may be phony, but it's the fave fashion this winter among politically correct—or just plain stylish—celebs. R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe donned a shaggy black synthetic pelt for the Little Women premiere last month in Los Angeles. A few days earlier, Halle Berry was spotted in L.A. in a floor-length fake leopard coat. Madonna frolicked in a creamy counterfeit jacket while filming a video last month in Spain, and Jada Pinkett attended the L.A. premiere of A Low Down Dirty Shame in a blue velvet top trimmed with imitation mink. "Animals have hearts and feelings just like us," says supermodel Roshumba about her decision to wear fake fur.
Such antifur fervor has led designers to include faux furry creations in their current lines. Isaac Mizrahi and Todd Oldham claim that their styles—ranging from mock Mongolian lamb capes to ersatz rabbit wraps—were guided by their consciences. "Fake fur is compassion-friendly," says Oldham, whose look-alike feel-alikes have been bought by Geena Davis, Diana Ross and Susan Sarandon. "A person wearing a fake fur can smile because she's not weighed down by the karma of 100 dead animals."
But real fur fans are far from an endangered species. Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs still use it, while Sophia Loren and Claudia Schiffer have courted controversy by modeling furs. And, with the Fur Information Council of America reporting sales actually up 20 percent over the past two years (last year's brutal winter played a part), spokeswoman Karen Handel contends that fakes only further interest in the real thing: "After all, imitation is the best form of flattery."