Ready To Wear: Animals – you name it, they've knitted it


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Indy Lifestyle Online

Everyone loves an animal print.

Not, you understand, the by now staple, abstract leopard spot/zebra stripe variety, although some people like those too. Even better, though, is the sight of one of God's creatures stamped in its entirety onto a garment, which rarely fails to evoke flittish cries of "ooh" and then "aah" from even the most hard-nosed fashion commentator.

With this in mind, only this summer, Louis Vuitton printed an entire giraffe onto a white silk trouser suit. Its stick-thin legs travelled all the way up the back of it and its ultra-long neck snaked round the torso of the model lucky enough to wear it in the show, until its sweet snout came to a rest nestling at her waist. Also of note is Emma Cook's enormous budgie of great beauty, in this instance printed onto tunics and T-shirts. For autumn, meanwhile, Cook has a baby donkey (baby animals are even better than grown up ones, obviously), another giraffe and even (how inspired) a raccoon with a bow in its tail, for our delectation. Just across the way from her studio in London's East End is her contemporary Peter Jensen's HQ. A vaguely sinister rabbit has long been Jensen's signature and he has created especially lovely animal jumpers: badgers, cockerels, ponies... You name it, Jensen and his team have knitted it, and very fetching they look too.

The forthcoming season generally upholds a more savage – or certainly tough – beast, however. In Balenciaga's pre-collection a panting Alsatian makes it onto a small, perfectly formed knit. Over at Givenchy, a black panther – inspired by the album cover of Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure, apparently – looks suitably scary, amber eyes glowing, its ferocity played off against clusters of purple pansies.

Finally, for his debut catwalk collection for Ungaro, Giles Deacon – who loves animals so much he not only features them on his clothes but is famous for drawing them, too – features menacing ravens and snarling wolves that are more Edgar Allan Poe than Animal Magic. There's not an awful lot of room for any ooh-ing and aah-ing here, admittedly, and that's just as it should be, because the woman who wears these clothes is doubtless too formidable for that.