Righteous Fur

When I first moved to southern Louisiana someone told me about these large rodents with massive, curled, orange teeth that live in the swamp. I was like, “Surrre, there are.” I was pretty sure someone was trying to take me on a snipe hunt. It turns out these creatures do exist, and they are called nutria. They are an invasive species here, destroying the fragile wetlands, so there are incentives to hunt them. Some resourceful folks are making clothes out of nutria fur, promoting the wearing of said fur as a way to save the wetlands.

Tonight is a gala and preview of the show they’re taking to New York in a couple weeks.

Here’s the info I got (there’s a lot of it):

New fashions making debut, music by Helen Gillet, film screening and more!

Righteous Fur is on a save-the-wetlands mission to bring nutria fur back to the runway. Launched with two sold-out shows in early 2010, Nutria-palooza! is heading to New York City with a wealth of new designs for a show on Nov. 21.

Kicking it off in style? A gala preview performance at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Fri., November 12, at 8:30 p.m.
…Beneath the spectacular vaulted 19th-century ceilings of the Ogden’s historic Patrick F. Taylor Library, Nutria-palooza! will showcase a fabulous array of fashions made from the byproducts of the state’s Coastwide Nutria Control Program (CNCP), which pays $5 a tail for captured nutria.

“There’s all this wonderful fur going to waste,” says Righteous Fur founder Cree McCree. Launched with a mini-grant from the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), the nonprofit champions the lustrous pelts of the pervasive invasive species as “guilt-free” fur that belongs on the runway instead of at the bottom of the bayou, where 98 percent of nutria killed in the CNCP program wind up.

Renowned cellist Helen Gillet provides the soundtrack for the cavalcade of models, who put their best fur forward in a dazzling display of one-of-a-kind designs by 18 cutting-edge New Orleans designers. Expect everything from elegant Mad Men-era cocktail wraps to northern Renaissance pieces inspired by 16th-century Flemish painters to surreal flights of fancy that recall the late Alexander McQueen. Even that runway staple, the wedding dress, will make an appearance, re-imagined with nutria fur.
Leading up to the fashion show, emcee Rob Cambre will host a multimedia tribute to the swamp rat as a cultural icon that kicks off with a screening of Ted Gesing’s Nutria. The award-winning short explores Louisiana’s love-hate relationship with nutria and the quixotic quest to make it gourmet meat.

Righteous Fur is especially pleased to welcome nutria fur supplier Tab Pitre of Galliano, La., who will regale the audience with down-bayou tales of nutria trapping, hunting and skinning dating back to his Daddy’s day. Other highlights include the infamous New Orleans episode of Comedy Central’s “Insomniac,” in which Dave Attell goes nutria-hunting with the late Sheriff Harry Lee; and the Jurassic Parish Folk Ensemble, who perform a rousing rendition of “$5 a Tail.”

True to the Righteous Fur motto – “Save Our Wetlands ¬ Wear More Nutria” – the evening will also sound the alarm about our vanishing coast. Michael Massismi, invasive species coordinator for BTNEP, will bring the audience up to date on the battle to save the wetlands, while volunteers will be on hand to get people involved in the fight.

Also be prepared for some fun surprise additions to the night’s program!

Admission is $10 for Ogden Museum members; $15 non museum members. Five percent of the evening’s proceeds go to the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation, which is working to restore the coast.

Participating Designers:
Autonomous Clothing (Alicia Zenobia), Avante Garb (Christine Wright), Baking with Medusa (Micha Michelle Melancon), Bayou Salvage (Kerry Fitts), Calamity, Xiomara del Carmen, Darlene Hargreaves, High Bohemia (Jessica Radcliffe), Howlpop (Mo Lappin),Julie Ebel, Dana Marie Embree, Oliver Manhattan, Cree McCree. Minka/Thomasine, New Orleans Magpie (Sarah Wheelock), Joy Patterson, Jose Luis Rodriguez

Event details:
What: Nutria-palooza!: Righteous Fur Fashion Show
When: Fri. November 12
Time: Doors at 8 p.m., show starts @ 8:30 p.m.
Where: Patrick F. Taylor Library (enter at Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., New Orleans, La.)
Admission: $10 Museum members; $15 nonmuseum members
For tickets and information: Contact 504.539.9616, or go to: nutria-palooza.eventbrite.com.

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