peta toronto

PETA naked coffin protest surfaces at Fashion Week

It was a brisk morning in Toronto, but that didn't stop three PETA activists from stripping down outside the World MasterCard Fashion Week tents at David Pecaut Square.

"I wouldn't be caught dead in leather," read the signs they held while lying in cardboard coffins that they quickly assembled just past 11:30 yesterday morning. Wearing nothing but black underwear and black heels, they posed for photos with passersby and played up their skull-painted faces by acting like zombies.

"Leather is dead skin," said PETA campaigner Emily Lavender from her coffin. "There are so many fashionable and luxurious options available today. You can get a killer look without killing any animals."

There with a mission to expose the cruelty involved in obtaining the animal skins for leather goods, the three protestors were delivering PETA's request that all Fashion Week attendees wear faux leather and other vegan options.

Several Torontonians on their lunch breaks stopped to take photos of the demonstration, and some quietly voiced their opinions. "I love leather, and fur," one woman whispered. Andrew Mullings, a Torontonian who works in sales, thought PETA might be changing some consumer's minds.

"I think it's really effective," said Mullings, who was passing by from the Ritz Carlton. "It grabbed my attention, and it's good that people are thinking outside of the box. Poor girls though - they must be freezing."

One photographer posed a question that, in light of the factory fire in Bangladesh earlier this year, was likely top of mind for some onlookers. He asked the protestors why they weren't fighting for human rights.

"There are so many causes out there, and they all deserve attention," responded Lavender. "Just simply by buying faux instead of real leather, people can make a world of difference for cows who have their throats slit and skin peeled off while they're still conscious."

PETA is no stranger to raising awareness via shocking tactics at fashion shows, and nudity in David Pecaut Square is fairly tame relative to the blood splattered fur coats the organization is often associated with. Even so, it looks like this won't be the last of the scrutiny World MasterCard Fashion Week will be receiving from PETA.

"We'll be leafleting, and we're also screening our skins video," said Lavender, referring to the gruesome video created by PETA and narrated by Tim Gunn.

When asked what the protestors would do if someone from World MasterCard Fashion Week requested that they move, one of the PETA demonstrators responded with an enthusiastic "we'll stay!"

Two Toronto Police officers looked on for a while, but no one from World MasterCard Fashion Week left the tents to confront the protestors, although many were watching from the backstage area windows.

"IMG provides a platform for designers to showcase their collections," says a spokesperson for IMG, which owns World MasterCard Fashion Week. "We don't dictate what can and can't be on the runway. People are free to protest, people are free to express their own opinions. We welcome everybody as long as they are safe when they express their opinions."

The PETA demonstrators packed up their coffins and put their robes back on at 12:30pm, just as the DHL Fashion Industry Panel began.

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