Furs on Film – The First Wives Club (1996)

At this rate, I’ll be done with the ‘90s pretty soon. The First Wives Club probably lands in that gray area where the costume designers (correctly) figured the “elite” were still wearing furs even though the post-80s backlash was in full swing. So, we get some real fur by way of authenticity, which is still true in the 2020s with period films set in the 70s and 80s.

The First Wives Club – The Film

The film is a comedy about… first wives. A group of them band together to get back at their ex-husbands who left them for younger women. The First Wives are played by comedy vets Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton, with a solid supporting cast and some cameos. It ended up being a sleeper hit that helped revitalize some careers.

The First Wives Club – The Furs

Stockard Channing Smoking in a Mink Fur Coat - The First Wives Club, 1996

How do you kick off your comedy? Suicide. Yep, the plot gets underway when Cynthia. (Stockard Channing) jumps off the roof while dressed in this pretty conservative mink.

Goldie Hawn and Maggie Smith Wearing Fur Collars - The First Wives Club, 1996

Cynthia was old school friends with the titular characters, who reunite at her funeral. Elise (Goldie Hawn) greets mature local socialite Gunilla (Maggie Smith). Elise has a collar that will do most of the heavy lifting in this film, while Gunilla has a black fox collar.

We get several reaction shots of Elise, which give us a better look at the collar. Gunilla is usually out of focus nearby.

Goldie Hawn - Smoking In A Sable Fur Collar - The First Wives Club, 1996

Elise and her old friends reunite at the funeral and go to lunch afterward. The funeral and lunch are the film’s first act, where a one-note joke about Elise over-botoxing her lips far overstays its welcome. All shots of Goldie in the sable collar include “the lips.”

Sarah Jessica Parker Wearing A Chinchilla Fur Coat - The First Wives Club, 1996

Shortly afterward, we’re briefly introduced to Shelly (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Shelly’s coat. Sarah is playing a new wife in this film, but rest assured that if this were remade today, she’d be playing a first wife.

Maggie Smith Wearing a Blue Fox Fur Coat - The First Wives Club, 1996

No need to get into the details, but Act II starts the “revenge” plots. Gunilla helps out with one of them from her car and keeps warm with a coat. Where I to quibble, I’d rather have her trade that with… any other character’s fur, but okay, fair. I feel Gunilla has reached an age status where more conservative furs are a better choice.

Sarah Jessica Parker Wearing A Chinchilla Fur Coat - The First Wives Club, 1996

The remainder of the film belongs to a couple of scenes with Shelly’s chinchilla. The first is at an auction.

Sarah Jessica Parker Wearing A Chinchilla Fur Coat - The First Wives Club, 1996

The second is at the end, where The Frist Wives succeed in breaking Shelly up with Brenda’s ex. 

Shelly ends up bouncing to one of the other ex-husbands. Hooray, I guess.

That’s the club. Overall, it’s okay; for 1996, it’s fantastic. The ratio is decent, and if you’re a fan of sable and chinchilla, you’re in luck. My quibbles are that, while a fine actress, I don’t think Maggie Smith pulls off the blue fox. I would have swapped either mink or sable for her to wear instead, and bonus, gotten the fox more screen time. Also, the botox joke goes on too long, and I’m not a fan, though I understand some of you will be quite pleased indeed.

Fur Runtime: approx 6:23 minutes

Film Runtime: 103 minutes

On-Screen Fur Ratio: 6.2%

Find-a-Fur: The First Wives Club, 1996

(all times are approximate and are affected by the cut of the film)

  • 05:10 – mink coat
  • 11:30 – 19:00 – sable collar 
  • 42:20 – chinchilla coat
  • 50:54 – ”
  • 52:30 – blue fox
  • 54:05 – 55:00 – ”
  • 1:01:20 – 1:04:20 – chinchilla coat
  • 1:31:20 – ”
  • 1:35:30 – ”

Fur Fashion Gallery – The First Wives Club, 1996

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