Irrespective of design intention, a garment can sometimes meet many needs, functioning in ways that are unplanned and idiosyncratic. It calls into being a way of thinking that is primed for making such connections and opens a door to increased use possibilities.
“This is my fur coat. It’s beaver. It is from Alaska and is very heavy. It takes everything [to make it] and it’s not nice in that way. But it is absolutely warm. It was my mother who bought it. It had been on sale because there had been a fire in the shop and they had to get rid of everything. So my mother went there and she came home with three fur coats. And I got the biggest one. It was okay, just a bit curly in the middle from the fire but nothing more. It was thick and big and gleaming.
Our [Norwegian national] hero Nansen used fur under his skis when he went out in the ice [during Polar expeditions] because it goes very fast when [the nap] is down, and then it sticks to ice [when against the run of the nap] and keeps you going up.
And I used the fur coat in the same way. I would sit my children on my stomach and then we just Shwoooosht!!! I had to go head first to get the fur the right way. And they were very happy for that, you know? And I really almost had a massage of my back... I used it very often. At last it was my children’s children who sat on my stomach. So it’s very old you know.
And then it comes to this where you can’t use a fur coat anymore [as it is morally and socially unacceptable]. So then I packed the beaver down in newspaper, down in a trunk where it was for many years. But in 2010 we got the really cold weather in Norway and my jacket wasn’t warm enough and then I gradually took out the newspaper. And it hadn’t changed... Surely when you have these old things it’s better to wear something now that it’s been made rather than throw it away?”
Oslo - March 2012
Photograph by Kristin von Hirsch
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