Delve into the wild as we explore why animal print is strong enough to withstand fashion’s fads….
Season upon season, we are told that animal print is in, and this season is absolutely no different from the last. Animal print, or more specifically leopard print, has never been hotter. Not only does it feature prominently in the collections we have come to expect it from (for example, Dolce and Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli and Christian Louboutin) but now we see many more major fashion houses exploiting the print to great effect. Balmain, Rupert Sanderson, Mulberry, Azzedine Alaia, 3.1 Philip Lim, Moschino and even Gucci (to name but a few) have all dabbled daringly to incorporate the playful pattern into their collections. But what is it about animal print that gives it a timeless quality and allows it to grow from strength to strength among top designers?
There is something instantly alluring about the use of animal print in an outfit. It is bold, bright, fun and feisty. It takes a confident woman to successfully embody these elements and embrace the pattern’s wild spirit. The naturally predatory connotations and aggressive attitudes associated with wild animals’ coats become feminine, subtle and sexy. Donatella Versace, a designer who has toyed with leopard print over the years, believes that making clothes sexy is a natural element of the design process: “I think that’s instinctive, that it comes naturally. I don’t think about making sexy clothes. It’s just my instinct to make them.”
Perhaps there is something to be said for ‘fun and fanciful fashion’ becoming a necessity as global economic problems persist. Singer Paloma Faith has become renowned for her eccentric sense of style. Her playful persona and outlandish attire have allowed her to promulgate the more experimental side of the industry. “My most valued vintage item is a turquoise cape with a leopard print trim because I feel like Cruella DeVille when I wear it!”
While we might not want to emulate Dodi Smith’s evil villainess and her furry aspirations, her style certainly stood out. Animal print is eye-catching, and it forces the wearer to live up to its attention-grabbing status.
“Minimalism is so boring,” states Roberto Cavalli, the man who once brought us the leopard-printed, gold-tinted, snakeskin suit with co-ordinating cowboy hat. A leopard never changes its spots, so why should we? Whatever the reason for animal print’s timeless allure, it is clear that there has never been a better time to take a leaf out of the jungle book. Although Cavalli’s bold lead might be a brave step, now is the time to invest in a piece that allows you to reinterpret and reinvent for years on end.