Repulsive Or Recycled? Dress Of 3,000 Yak Cow Nipples Sparks Outrage

Photos: Rachel Freire and People

If Lady Gaga's infamous meat dress wasn't enough to faze you, then Rachel Freire's collection of dresses made of yak cow nipples may do the trick.

The Liverpool-based designer recently unveiled a collection of dresses at London's Fashion Week crafted out of 3,000 yak cow nipples, arousing the ire of animal rights activists and members of the British parliament. They vilified her creations as "sickening", "grotesque", "repulsive", "disturbing" and a "runaway freak show." But Freire gives another surprising side to the story.According to Friere, the yak cow nipples were given to her by tanneries, which would have thrown them out. In all, the 32-year-old's odd collection included two dresses as well as a bra featuring "protruding" yak cow nipples. The People quotes her as saying:

I create fashion using material that would otherwise end up on the scrap heap. What I am doing is recycling. The people criticising are clearly clueless about the amount of leather wasted on a daily basis.

It appears that Freire, who's worked with stars like Courtney Love and Christina Aguilera, is making the best out of a less-than-ideal situation. The leather industry, which often uses by-products from the meat industry for its supply of raw material, is not exactly an environmentally-friendly process by any means. In addition to the array of fungicides and chemicals that are applied to leathers, apparently parts that are not desirable for say, a leather jacket, are discarded -- something that ultimately inspired Freire's dresses.

So what's an eco-hopeful fashion designer to do? In the end, knowing that neither the meat nor leather industries is going to disappear anytime soon, is it acceptable to recycle some of its by-products, even if it is (ahem) yak cow nipples? After all, even Lady Gaga's line of discarded meat dresses won the approval of animal-rights group PETA.

So an interesting debate arises: is this dress irredeemably cruel and ghastly -- or does it deserve credit for re-using something that would have been thrown out?

UPDATE: Designer @RachelFreire has informed us that the original article at The People misquoted the dress as being made of yak nipples, when in fact it was cow. We apologize for the error.
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