<Review by: Amit Divekar, a fashion designer and uber stylish guy with an eye for what’s right and what’s fright!>
Animal prints are perhaps one of those things that you either love or hate. There isn’t much of a grey area there, except for a few like me who don’t mind it, but in very small doses. Apart from our primitive forefathers and Fred from The Flintstones, the trend of wearing animal prints hit the fashion world in the early 40’s. Christian Dior was one of the first designers to popularise animal prints by infusing his collections with hints of leopard print. Right from its genesis in fashion, wearing an animal print has always been considered a symbol of wealth, power and aristocracy. Still is. The trend caught on very quickly and raised animal prints high up to a level of absolute sophistication and elegance. Only the formidable, the rich and famous wore it with pride and élan.
However the 60’s and 70’s hippy culture broke down this barrier (among many others!) and diversified this trend to fit into more prêt lines by emulating animal prints on various everyday fabrics and in a wide and wild array of hues. Animal prints soon became a natural choice especially of stars and celebrities with edgy and flamboyant personalities, who were willing to push the style envelope. Needless to say animal prints gradually seeped into everything allied to fashion, be it accessories, lingerie, home furnishings, hair, make-up or jewellery.
Come the 80’s and the ‘we live dangerously’ punk and rock folk picked up the trend effortlessly and gave it their own spin. They customised and incorporated animal print in their tattered stockings, sky high spiked shoes, bandannas, giant hoops and other grunge ensembles. From Axl Rose, Blondie, Cyndi Lauper and Iggy Pop to Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Kanye West and Katy Perry… they’ve all worn it, rocked it and had fun with it. Animal prints have since become a series regular on catwalks worldwide. Whether it’s cheetah, leopard, tiger, python, zebra, giraffe, cow, pony or Dalmatian, it’s incessantly been strutting down runways.
Today, animal prints are so versatile: team it with leather for a dark, feisty look or team it with lace for a feminine, flirty look. One can find it on a $5 tee or acrylic bracelet, at the same time on a $10,000 elaborate, fully beaded gown or rhinestone studded sun glasses. Unfortunately this versatility has become curse as well. Fact is, one does have a good chance of looking very tarty and tacky in animal print as opposed to looking very classy, expensive. It completely depends on how it is used and who wears it. One could easily spot platinum blonde Candy standing on the corner of the street wearing fuchsia cheetah print hot pants with thigh high PVC boots. Or one could spot a beautiful chiffon zebra print chic flowing flouncy dress worn on the red carpet. Oh well, this way or that, the bold, raw, adventurous and almost ostentatious vibe and appeal that animal prints assert, is consistent.
Roberto Cavalli, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, are some international designers who have had a strong inclination towards using animal print prominently in all their collections. On indigenous grounds undoubtedly the designer duo Falguni and Shane Peacock have used animal prints most creatively and fabulously, often mixing them with very colorful floral and psychedelic prints on very sheer breezy fabrics. The culmination of the two comes out looking quite fantastic and exclusive, even more so when it’s embellished with chunky embroidery and bead work.
I think one must have at least one animal print garment or accessory in their closet, reserved for days when one feels brave and catty. Just to keep a little bit of that animal instinct inside us alive!
Note: We do not condone the use of real animal skins or furs in any products, just animal ‘prints’.