Fur Flies Over Fendi Collection in South Korea

Animal rights activists' protest could derail designer's planned show.

ByABC News
May 15, 2011, 9:02 PM

SEOUL, South Korea, May 15, 2011— -- Fendi's largest 2011 fashion show in Asia is on the verge of being scrapped after the hosting Seoul City government demanded the designer remove fur from the catwalk.

"We have clearly confirmed social sentiment against fur products," said Jong-Hyun Lee, spokesman for the Seoul City Government.

The City Government had distributed a press release last week indicating the runway will include fur. But after threats of protest and criticism from Korea's animal rights activist groups, the city is backing down and possibly about to cancel the show.

Fendi planned the grand event on Seoul's new ambitious Floating Island, a man-made 2.5 acre island facility on Han River, to be held on June 2. Preparation has been ongoing for many months, including specially designed pieces exclusively for the show.

The scale and scope is to be similar to the Fendi event on the Great Wall of China in 2007 that drew about 532 million viewers, according to the designer's Korea office.

The city of Seoul has been campaigning to improve its image as a design city and the Floating Island containing entertainment and international conference facilities is part of a landmark project to upgrade itself as a global destination.

But the sudden notice with only two weeks left Fendi, known worldwide for its fur craftsmanship, puzzled and disconcerted by the message of "no show if fur show."

"I met with Seoul City Government officials last March and at this meeting there was agreed mutual excitement and cooperation for the execution of this premier event," Fendi CEO Michael Burke said. "I'm surprised to learn of Seoul City's decision to possibly cancel the event."

More than 1,200 guests including foreign celebrities, global media, and fashion leaders are expected to participate in the event.

As part of a digital campaign, 200 influential bloggers were also selectively invited to broadcast live digitally at the show.