‘Nutria Are Known Colloquially As Swamp Rats, But It’s Also Just a Really Beautiful Pelt, and There’s Nothing Creepy About It’

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Photo: Ashley Hoffman

To bring attention to South Louisiana's endangered wetlands, designer Cree McCree held a fashion show at House of Yes in Williamsburg starring Righteous Fur pelts made from nutria — the huge rodent that has a serious appetite for swamp plants and is endangering the nation's ecosystem. The crowd catcalled as each model strutted across the stage in nutria-fur-lined looks from New York and Louisiana designers. Though everyone involved didn't share the same moral stance, they were happy to be in on the guilt-free glamour. McCree explained, "Nutria are known colloquially as swamp rats, but it's also just a really beautiful pelt, and there's nothing creepy about it."

While a Louisiana cellist in a nutria-fur bikini played, models and non-models of varying experience paraded for your awareness with sass. Highlights included a silk halter with a full skirt jacket and nutria cuffs, a wool crepe dress accented with nutria pom-poms, a bias-cut silk dress with nutria trim, and, for the Mad Men obsessives, a recycled vintage cream brocade dress with a nutria collar and gloves. One of the occasional male models wore a fur hoodie with nutria teeth for buttons, an alligator pendant, and a fishnet skirt. "It's an interesting fur to work with," designer Olivia Warner told us. "Usually when you're making art, you're not completely disgusted by your materials, so I really liked that. I was like, Oh gross! Gotta keep going. Oh no, this is horrible! Gotta keep going."

The crowd was split on the huge orange, crescent-shaped nutria teeth that dangled from some of the hems, but they didn't mind the technical snafus; and the production (which seemed like it lasted long enough for fur to be out of season) featured an aerial dancer and a music number from Primo Prima, who shot light-up bubble guns into the crowd. The show closed with a nutria-lined wedding dress, which Stephen Franco of Primo Prima said Cate Blanchett could pull off. "She's brave. She's Australian, and Australians don't puss around. They all have that native animal vibe, you know. They definitely hunt and gather there."