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Squaw is a furry festival
Fred R. Smith
February 29, 1960
The Winter Games have brought out some of the most elegant skins ever seen anywhere, along with a few costumes that would startle a zoo-keeper
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February 29, 1960

Squaw Is A Furry Festival

The Winter Games have brought out some of the most elegant skins ever seen anywhere, along with a few costumes that would startle a zoo-keeper

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There must be an awful lot of fur-bearing animals I never heard of before. Fur is everywhere at the Olympic Games. As displayed by the spectators at Squaw Valley, it ranges from the simple, elegant snow-leopard parka worn by Mrs. Mary Ryan, owner of Canada's Mont Tremblant, to the frankly gaudy raccoon-collared leopardskin greatcoat worn by Brooks Walker of San Francisco. Walker says his wife found the coat at her furrier's, who told her that it was made 30 years ago for an English colonel on duty in Siberia.

Sealskin parkas are almost as common as the popular quilted ones. Mr. and Mrs. Hud Hatch of Auburn Calif. bought theirs in Anchorage two years ago with the Olympics in mind. They are of hair seal, hers with otter around the face, his with wolverine—both furs that do not catch snow, or frost up from breath.

Mr. and Mrs. Melville P. Steil of Seattle are among the most spectacularly furred spectators about. Steil is in the skin game, and he and his wife are decked out in Russian timber wolf coats and hats. His, a capelike poncho with fur buttons, can be belted for skiing. They wear wolf mittens and even bands of wolf tail about the tops of their ski boots to keep out the snow. One of the products Steil markets has proved popular in the unheated ice arena. It is a fanny-warmer of wolfskin, which rolls up into a belt around the waist but can be unrolled quickly for stadium or ski-lift sitting.

There has been a skin raid on the lofty south as well as the frozen north. Guanaco, llama and vicu�a fur, mostly imported from South America by a New York firm called Pinata Party, is seen everywhere. Kay Starr and Art Linkletter are wearing alpaca fur ponchos. Matilda Menzies, a cute young San Franciscan, has a great bulky llama fur pullover parka in two shades of brown and white.

Fur hats are a real Olympic fad. There are llama hats of every shape and size, from the Russian Cossack hat to a horned Viking helmet. I saw one youngster wearing a silver fox hat made from his mother's old scarf. San Francisco's Clarence Slade has a genuine sable toque to go with his raccoon coat.

On warmer days the quilted parka, whether quilted in squares, diamonds, cable patterns or cartridge stripes is the almost unanimous favorite. In most cases it matches stretch pants.


The new high fashion colors in both parkas and stretch pants are offbeat greens and browns, worn all of a piece, or in combination and sometimes with reversible parkas. On opening day Justine Cushing was wearing a yellow sweater and stretchies; later she turned up in an orange quilted parka as brilliant as an air-sea rescue raft. Pale lavenders and deep purples also look like real comers. Maria Bogner, whose husband Willy originated stretch pants, wore plum-colored pants and a sweater its exact match.

Some stunning fashion touches were displayed in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies. The Australians marched in forest green toggle coats with golden thong closings, and golden linings in the hoods. The Austrians were as precise and as authoritative on parade as they are on the slopes, in beautifully tailored gray loden coats with knit facing on the lapels, white gloves, brilliant taut red stretch pants and Tyrolean hats—white for the girls, gray for the men.

After the Austrians came the Bulgarians in white reversed-shearling parkas, tightly fitted with colorful embroidered ribbons outlining the seams. Then the Canadians brought every camera up, in coats made from Hudson's Bay point blankets in brilliant stripes of red, white, green and yellow, topped off by dashing Cossack hats of brown Canadian beaver, emblazoned with the maple leaf. And so on down the alphabet.

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