Would You Wear a Cow’s Head?

May 09, 2014 at 8:55 AM ET

Many of us have an olfactory love affair with leather; drinking in its rich, intoxicating scent every time we buy a bag or pair of shoes. But when we slide our dyed and treated purchase out of the box, we rarely think about where that raw stretch of hide was peeled from.

German designer Victoria Ledig wants to change that. She has created a grotesquely beautiful collection of luxury leather goods made from parts of calves deemed to be unusable—heads, ears, lower legs, tails—and makes no attempt to mask the items’ origins.

Titled Precious Skin (which we’ll take as a nod to Silence of the Lambs), the line was born out of her graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Ledig explains that there is a disconnect between the way we fetishize leather and our ability to acknowledge that it is, in fact, dead skin. Her bags, purses and makeup kits aim to close the gap between the products we use and their animal sources.

“We sometimes forget that touching leather is to handle a former living being’s hide. Most leather is processed to the point of becoming unrecognizable as what it is and this contributes to a general attitude,” she writes of the collection. “By up-cycling skin parts which would otherwise be considered waste products, I wanted to give them a new value and create something thought-provoking. A tail turns into a handle, an ear into a purse. This way the animal’s presence and past lies undeniably in every touch of each leather bag.”

Ledig’s Precious Skin collection can be seen at New York City’s Collective 2 Design Fair until May 11.