Fashion: I am woman, hear me roar

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Indy Lifestyle Online

If you are one of the dying breed whose wardrobe does not contain at least one animal-print item, you could soon have a case for recognition as a minority group. We're not sure when it happened, but suddenly the world is in animal print, with celebs leading the pack: stars from La Moss to Jasmine Guinness via Lily Allen have been spotted in near-identical leopard-print coats, suggesting that this is one spring trend that is going to stick.

But even for those with a penchant for Longleat-esque action, there is a long history of negative associations to overcome. From the cheap and cheerful barmaid chic of Bet Lynch to Theresa May's kitten heels ("I may be a Conservative MP but I do have a moderately wild side!"), it is a classic example of how something overtly sexy often produces quite the opposite effect.

This season, however, designers have managed to rehabilitate this old chestnut, transforming it into something modern, sophisticated and, yes, even quite sexy.

Alber Elbaz's effort at Lanvin is a case in point: his one-shoulder dress in blue leopard is about as chic as print gets, and the fact that it was chosen by the actor Maggie Gyllenhaal (who can always be relied on for refreshingly off-beat choices in the yawnsome world of red-carpet dressing) confirms that animal prints have shrugged off their fashion cliché status.

And you're not limited to leopard: there was python print at Prada and zebra at Hermès. But most original animal print goes to east London's Christopher Kane, who emblazoned one bodice with a roaring gorilla face – now who among us couldn't benefit from that comparison when we're having an off day?