PETA defends Kylie Jenner’s ‘fabulously innovative’ lion head dress amid backlash

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has defended Kylie Jenner and her lion head dress, which she wore at Schiaparelli’s Haute Couture fashion show over the weekend.

The non-profit organisation issued a statement about Schiaparelli’s gown, which featured a lifelike bust of a lion’s head on Jenner’s torso, during a recent interview with Page Six Style. These remarks also come after the brand faced widespread backlash from critics such as Carrie Johnson suggesting the collection promotes “trophy hunting”, which is the act of hunting animals for sport and keeping the heads of their bodies as trophies.

PETA’s President, Ingrid Newkirk, praised the fashion house for its “fabulously innovative” animal head dresses, which were also worn by Irina Shayk and Naomi Campbell.

“Kylie, Naomi and Irina’s looks celebrate the beauty of wild animals and may be a statement against trophy hunting, in which lions and wolves are torn apart to satisfy human egotism,” she told Page Six Style.

While Shayk walked the runway in a gown nearly identical to the one worn by Jenner, Campbell modelled a black faux-fur coat with a wolf’s head. Model Shalom Harlow wore a strapless snow leopard tube dress featuring a realistic bust of the animal’s head.

Newkirk also praised Schiaparelli for its creative use of faux-fur throughout the entire collection, adding: “We encourage everyone to stick with 100 per cent cruelty-free designs that showcase human ingenuity and prevent animal suffering.”

She also encouraged Jenner and her peers to “extend this creativity to exclude sheep shorn bloody for wool and silkworms boiled alive in their cocoons”.

On Monday, Shayk also shared a photo of her outfit on Instagram and expressed support for the designers who worked so hard to make the dress.

“I support these incredible artists who worked tirelessly, with their hands, using wool, silk, and foam, to sculpt this embroidered Lion, and image of Pride, An image that @schiaparelli invokes while exploring themes of strength. I am honoured to have been called on as well to lend my art as a woman to this @danielroseberry,” she wrote in the caption, tagging Schiaparelli’s creative director.

PETA and Shayk’s statements came as the outfits have received backlash on social media. Some critics are accusing Schiaparelli of encouraging the trophy hunting of animals featured in the collection.

Ms Johnson, the wife of former Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson, condemned the collection on her private Instagram. On her Insta Story, she shared a photo of Shayk wearing the lion gown and wrote: “Grim! Real or fake, this just promotes trophy hunting. Yuck!”

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As reported by CNN, Schiaparelli described the animal busts as “faux-taxidermy” and told the publication they were made with foam resin and other man-made materials. The busts are meant to serve as a “reminder there is no such thing as heaven without hell; there is no joy without sorrow; there is no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt,” according to Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry.

Along with Ms Johnson, many others took issue with the use of the animal heads as accessories.

“This normalisation of trophy hunting is so wrong. Using the natural beauty of wildlife to ‘shock’ and stir controversy. How sad and empty,” one person wrote on Twitter, while another added: “As much as I love couture, promoting animal slaughter (fake or not) and calling it high fashion is ultimately a grand faux-pas of the season.”

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On its Instagram, where the brand posted a video of Jenner wearing the controversial gown, Schiaparelli emphasised that the lion head was made using “hand sculpted foam, wool and silk faux fur,” and hand-painted to look as “life-like as possible, celebrating the glory of the natural world”.

In the caption, the brand added: “NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN MAKING THIS LOOK.”

Schiaparelli also shared another post that showed photos and videos of how these animal heads were made.

The Independent has contacted a representative for PETA and Schiaparelli for comment.