This fall, some fake furs come disguised as Persian lamb, rabbit, fox, mink, mouton, beaver, leopard and tiger. Others are dyed in strange hues pale blue, red, purple, pumpkin, pomegranate, silvery grey, pinky beige as well as in black, brown and taupe.
In these colors, the coats do not resemble any animals but only what they are -- acrylic pile. They come short and long and can be as frivolous as a stole or as useful as a 1920s-style ankle-length coat of navy blue wool and cashmere, edged in dark brown "mouton."
The most amusing fake furs are sporty. Like most designers who work in fake (and real) fur, Louis Dell'Olio, vice president in
charge of design at Anne Klein, says he doesn't like fake furs when they are intended to look real.
"I like fake furs when they look like fake furs," Dell'Olio said. "I like them when they're fun."
He says he does not believe thatfake furs will replace real furs. "The market for real fur will dwindle to a certain point, but I think it will continue to exist," he said. "Where it will grow is in ranched animals. There's a strong feeling against wild animals."
For those who just want an accessory, Giorgio Armani designed a fake mink stole that can be wrapped around a skimpy black dress or tossed over a suit. The stole is $360 at Emporio Armani, 110 Fifth Avenue at 16th Street.
For a modicum of warmth from the neck to the waist, there are jackets. Two are in fake mink. Armani designed a jacket that is reminiscent of the fur, fake or otherwise, that a teen-ager might wear to a senior prom. It sells for $785.
Charlotte Neuville's bomber jacket has a snug hood, two patch pockets and a zipper.
"You're fooling yourself if you think you're going to be warm in a waist-length fake fur," Neuville said. "It's for fun, for popping on."
Franco Moschino has a black and white fake fox jacket whose black collar forms a question mark dotted with a fluffy black fur ball. It sells for $1,350 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Yohji Yamamoto took advantage of fake fur's ability to be dyed the most improbable colors. He designed a cocoon jacket in coral.
For Anne Klein, Dell'Olio designed a seven-eighths length coat with a toggle closing. Casual and sporty, it is a perfect coat to trudge through fields, ankle-deep in leaves. The coat, in moss or black, is $569 at Macy's.
In a season of perky swing coats, there is Searle Blatt Studio's version with a big collar and wide cuffs. It comes in olive and sells for $600 at Bloomingdale's stores in Manhattan, White Plains, N.Y., Hackensack, N.J., North Michigan Blvd. in Chicago and Chestnut Hill, Mass.
One of the most elegant yet casual coats is Nicole Farhi's reinterpretation of the coat women wore on trans-Atlantic cruises early this century.
She calls it a "traveling coat." Edged and cuffed in velvety brown fake fur, the ankle-length navy coat, made of wool, cashmere and polyester, is $760 at Barneys New York.