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V&A/RCA History of Design (MA)

Georgina Hobday

Georgina is a London based writer and researcher specialising in fashion history and cultural criticism.

She holds a BA in Fashion History and Theory from Central Saint Martins.

Image. Schiaparelli monkey fur boots designed in collaboration with footwear designer André Perugia for the Circus Collection 1938

Georgina stood in front of a painting at the Saatchi gallery

My MA thesis 'Chic Simians: monkey fur, sexuality, power dressing 1910-1940' investigated the use of colobus monkey fur in fashion design. Arguably more than any other fur, monkey fur elicits visceral reactions of horror and unease. Our proximity to simians renders the notion of wearing their skins particularly perverse and abhorrent. Despite these aversions, monkey fur emerged as one of the most fashionable furs of the period 1910-1940.

My work considered the erotic multitudes of fur, monkey fur’s uncanny resemblance to human hair, and the complex entanglements of monkeys with notions of unbridled sexuality and lascivious desire. 

My thesis suggests fashionable monkey fur was a decadent effrontery, a reclamation of the material's connotations of cruelty and disgust, and a fashionable assertion of outré femininity.

Image. Unexpectedly 'finding oneself' through art - Georgina at the Saatchi Gallery