On Saturday, the 28-year-old fashion designer Divya Anantharaman struck a coy pose in the doorway of her kitchen. “I’m going to take the bird out of the fridge so it gets to room temperature,” she breathed, as if the “bird” were perhaps a roasted turkey, and not a pair of dead finches in a Zip-loc bag.
When she’s not traveling for her day job as a shoe designer for women and tweens, Ms. Anantharaman spends her weekends doing taxidermy. She answered the door in high-waisted black shorts, oversize glasses studded with rhinestones, sparkly green stick-on fingernails and bare feet—a bit of Brooklyn, where she lives, meets Miami, where she grew up. Ms. Anantharaman, who is dark-skinned, curvy and full-lipped, is gorgeous enough to pull this garish combination off—even as she clears a model of a human skeleton from the dining room table. “Last night I had some friends over and we were going to do taxidermy stuff, but we ended up just playing with my anatomy model,” she apologized.
Ms. Anantharaman has stuffed about 50 animals, and collected many more off eBay and from friends, who know that animal remains make an ideal house gift. The young fashionista tried to stuff her first mouse about four years ago on a whim, an experiment that evolved into an obsession with the rite of animal preservation. She’s using her winnings from Lifetime’s 24 Hour Catwalk, a grand prize of $10,000, to create a new line of taxidermy-themed footwear: high-heeled bunny slippers with real bunny heads, pumps covered in white mouse skin, that kind of thing. She has yet to name the collection. “Probably either ‘Ampoule’ or ‘Friends Forever,’” she said. Read More