Snake, rattle and roll: Reptilian print is back and slithering down the catwalk

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Forget what you thought you knew about the reptilian print – designers this season have given it a modern makeover. Get a wriggle on, says Gemma Hayward

It's as baffling as ever when a clutch of designers decide, apparently independently of each other, to all back the same trend.

This season it's snakeskin that has slithered on to the scene. Graphically printed on to fabrics and reproduced as textured leather – even the real thing, for the spendy and the not too squeamish.

It's quite fitting, too, given that London's Chinatown will host, in little over two weeks' time, the world's largest celebration (outside Asia) of that fact that 2013 as the year of the snake. So what to wear to see in the other new year of 2013?

Take inspiration from the catwalks, where snake really had legs, so to speak. At Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo, the dappled skin was used as a print on more delicate silks and flowing fabrics, lending strictly cut and planar pieces sexiness and sensuality. It's the next version of leopard, in terms of iconic prints that have been given the fashionable once-over, and reinvented as cool rather than clichéd.

The key is in the way you wear it. Ditch the barmaid bra'n'belt look. Snake is saucy enough on its own, so wear yours on loosely cut, almost androgynous pieces – such as the billowing, sheer chiffon blouses and T-shirts at Preen – rather than strapped across your anatomy by way of a bandage dress.

Don't stick to classic colours, but try reinventing the print in an unexpected shade. Look out for tinted separates or panelled pieces that blend hue and texture. And don't forget accessories. Shoes and bags are traditionally where one might find this skin, but that's not to say it's confined to them for spring 2013. Be sure not to match all elements of your outfit, for fear of looking slightly too cold-blooded.

But don't worry about being literal, because the snake motif extends beyond just its hide. Serpents featured as clasps and buckles, as pendant charms, on jewellery and accessories. It's part of a wider trend of exoticism for spring, with snakes favourite for chunky cuffs, rings and torques.

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