Nutria — if you can’t beat ‘em, wear ‘em!

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The nutria is an invasive pest wreaking havoc on Louisiana’s wetlands, but it also makes a great shawl.

Brooklyn designers and artists are teaming up with Louisianans to stage Nutria-palooza!, a Nov. 21 fashion show and wetlands benefit at Bushwick’s House of Yes that will feature the fur of rodents rounded up by bounty hunters.

“It’s going to be a great fashion show — educational and a hoot,” said Cree McCree, who uses the critters’ teeth in her jewelry designs.

McCree’s use of nutria is interesting, but hardly unique. The show will feature two dozen designers, including “Mad Men”-era cocktail wraps, wintery coats, and even a fur-lined wedding dress.

And what’s a fashion show about a pernicious pest without music?

“We’re really drawn to celebrating the life of the animal instead of just discarding it,” said Stephen Franco, whose band PRIMA PRIMO will not only perform, but will wear nutria-gangster outfits.

The gangland imagery is not entirely inappropriate. After all, bounty hunters in Louisiana are paid $5 for every nutria they bag — though the meat and fur are often just discarded.

And that waste inspired the founding of Righteous Fur, which is hosting the fashion show as part of its ongoing mission to find uses for the animal.

“At this point, it’s almost a case of us versus them in southern Louisiana,” said the group’s Brooklyn-based design director, Valerie Massimi.

Nutria, imported from Argentina in the 1930s for their pelts, were released into Louisiana’s marshland and soon became a threat to the natural habitat because they breed year round, reach sexual maturity within months and are extremely prolific. In that way, they’re sort of like hipsters.

But unlike hipsters, you can just kill nutria. And the death of any creature is bound to attract the attention of animal rights groups.

“Using any fur in fashion, no matter how it’s obtained, promotes the idea that it’s glamorous to decorate yourself in the skin of a dead animal,” said Danielle Katz, campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

But McCree was quick to counter by saying that her use of the animals’ teeth harkens back to the Native American practice of using every bit of an animal.

And despite PETA’s stance, efforts to promote a “guilt-free fur” in the fashion world are paying off. Oscar de la Renta featured a nutria vest in his fall/winter collection and designer Billy Reid, who refers to the pelt as “bad-ass fur” used it for collars, hats and an evening cape.

All of which may suggest the once fashionable rodent — worn by icons like Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren — will be staging its comeback at the House of Yes.

Nutria-palooza! at House of Yes (342 Maujer St. between Morgan Avenue and Waterbury Street in Bushwick, no phone), Nov. 21 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20; Righteous Fur will also sell items at the Brooklyn Flea (176 Lafayette Ave. between Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues in Fort Greene), Nov. 20 from 10 am to 5 pm.

Updated 5:21 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I suppose this is better than the folks that wear the Racoon penis bone around their necks.
Nov. 3, 2010, 9:44 am
Louisiana from 70125 says:
You need to change the title of your article. Nutria aren't rats and aren't even the same family as rats. They are more like beavers and in the same family as beavers.
Nov. 4, 2010, 9:14 am
AesopRocks247 from balitmore says:
“Using any fur in fashion, no matter how it’s obtained, promotes the idea that it’s glamorous to decorate yourself in the skin of a dead animal,” said Danielle Katz, campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

THATS THE WHOLE POINT.... people have been doing it for centuries. Its also pretty badass.
Nov. 4, 2010, 10:01 am
trace from park slope says:
It's not the wearing of the fur, it's how the animals are killed. Check out some of the fur farm videos.. Chopping little raccons hands off, skinning them alive, electrocute through the ass..It is hideous, reallly hideous.....
Nov. 4, 2010, 11:42 am
NOLA70115 from New Orleans says:
You do realize that these aren't farmed? They are caught and killed in the wild to prevent them from destroying the wetlands.
Nov. 4, 2010, 4:08 pm
Lori from Hell's Kitchen says:
So if you were one of these animals, would you enjoy being killed off and and have your skin being worn by someone else?
Nov. 4, 2010, 6:07 pm
Eddy from Park slop says:
I think we should organise a demo outside the venue and should also boycot this paper for supporting it by giving it voice.
Nov. 4, 2010, 8:08 pm
Trace from Park Slope says:
These nutria may not be farmed, but how do we know? Do they get some kind of 'humane KILL" label? As witness the chinese attempt to call dogs "racoon - dogs' so it seems ok to torture them, and also to not label fur as what it is - FUR..
there is only one way to go, no fur, ever..And that is just the start..
Nov. 5, 2010, 11:29 am
SL from Greenpoint says:
These are wild animals that sadly are in the wrong place and are wrecking the wetlands. The wetlands of Louisiana are vitally important to protecting the state from hurricanes, and are home to native animals that are not as adaptable as nutria. They aren't being killed for their fur, they're being killed to stop the damage.
Nov. 8, 2010, 1:53 pm
Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
LMAO Joey from Clinton Hills, Racoon penis ring?
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:49 am
Chris from Louisiana says:
Nutria are an invasive and extremely destructive pest in Louisiana wetlands brought here by more naive previous generations, which is no longer relevant to the argument. They really do need to be removed. There are millions and millions of them. We asked nicely, but they didn't leave, so we are killing them whether anyone wears, eats, or otherwise gets any use out of them or not. The animal rights advocates should focus on preservation of habitat for native species and the obvious cruelty of flesh farms, on which point I agree wholeheartedly.
Nov. 11, 2010, 7:38 pm

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