Style Police: It's a jungle out there
Animal prints are loud and excessive this autumn. Think Bet Lynch on a bad day, says James Sherwood
Sunday 22 August 1999
How quickly we forgot the once ubiquitous combat pant. It's the law of the fashion jungle. Instead of dressing like the hunter, designers are inspired by the hunted. Wild exotic animal print has devoured last year's dull khaki cotton.
Fashion has taken a leaf out of Jungle Book this season. Endangered species such as the leopard, tiger and zebra are de rigueur mortis. On the catwalk, Dolce & Gabbana gave us leopard-skin micro-mini skirts that wouldn't cover Mowgli's modesty. Versace skinned the big cat to cover mid-calf boots in tiger and Marni cut crop jackets and A-line skirts in zebra-print ponyskin. Wild animal print invariably stalks the autumn/winter season, but this time round it's a jungle out there.
Designers haven't tamed wild-animal print and used it as nothing more than a dash of exotica - at last they've gone the whole hog. Fash mag agony aunts are going to tell you to restrict animal print to little touches; a discreet zebra-print belt or minuscule leopard-skin bag. Nonsense. We're talking wild here so Style Police wants to see you roar. The message was loud and proud at Dolce & Gabbana when tigress Esther Canades vamped it up in leopard-print chiffon. It's not enough to buy Marni's ponyskin clogs and think you're on top of the trend. No, you want a pair of Gina's leopard- print ponyskin stillie ankle boots and to hell with it. Taste is not an issue here.
We all instinctively know leopard, tiger and zebra print are as vulgar as lap-dancing nights at Stringfellows. Animal hide is not bohemian or gypsy. It's Bet Lynch pulling a pint of milk stout behind the bar at The Rover's Return. It's Diana Dors wearing a mink bikini and reclining on a tiger-skin rug. It's Debbie Harry strutting round the stage after a couple of tequilas and belting out "Maria". Whether you're thinking chatty barmaid, Fifties streetwalker or ageing rock chick, wild-animal print takes no prisoners. If you want tasteful go to Jaeger.
How to wear it
August Vogue said it all with fashion editor Tina Laakkonen's Animal Magic shoot. Laakkonen clashed this season's searing blood-orange colours with a veritable zoo of animal pelts. Gina's snakeskin and zebra print ponyskin stillie ankle boots won the Style Police Vulgar as my Auntie Kay award. Fabulous.
Break yourself in with a pair of ponyskin print boots. Make sure they're to the knee if flat or mid-calf if stiletto. Clash it with a neat under- arm handbag. Then take it to the bridge with a piebald ponyskin A-line skirt. If you really want to work it then go for a skinny coat which stops on the knee.
A word of warning. In pictures, fake fur printed to ape an animal looks gorgeous. In real life, synthetic fake fur feels like a badger's underbelly. Fake fur doesn't give; it starts balding after the second outing and it looks totally tatty. Do you want to go there? Style Police urges you to just say no.
Where to buy it
There is one word only on your shoe shopping list: Gina. Hunt down the leopard print cowhide ankle boots (pounds 410). Kill for the snakeskin and pony numbers (pounds 445) by Gina Couture. Alternatively, just swing by the store for the best edit of zebra, tiger, leopard and dalmatian print boots, stiletto sandals and under-arm bags. Jimmy Choo's tiger-skin mid-calf boots (pounds 495) are definitely worth wrestling Johnny Weissmuller for.
Ponyskin doesn't come cheap. Some designers have literally skinned the odd palomino to get that authentic horsehair texture but all the boots Style Police are recommending come in cowhide. We particularly love Russell & Bromley's kitten-heeled zebra-print mid-calf boots (pounds 345) in cowhide. They go a treat with R&B's leopard-print handbag (pounds 175) which has the cutest Bet Lynch diamante buckle.
Don't worry if your calves are screaming "anything but boots". Diana Dors would have sold her mink bikini to buy LK Bennett's kitten-heeled leopard-skin slippers (pounds 169), or the Fifties stiletto-heeled zebra-skin pumps (pounds 169). The jury is still out on whether the high street can copy ponyskin A-line skirts or the skinny knee-length coats. If you simply can't wait for Top Shop's take on wild animal print pieces, then maybe you'd be tempted by Marni's zebra-skin A-line skirt for pounds 780. Then again, maybe not.
Gina (tel: 0171 409 7090). Jimmy Choo (tel: 0171 235 0242).
Russell & Bromley (tel: 0171 629 6903). LK Bennett (tel: 0171 491 3005).
Marni at Joseph (tel: 0171 823 9500).
Life & Style blogs
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers
Airline food across the classes: Ever wondered what the other half are eating?
Coachella Festival 2015: from Kendall Jenner to Alexa Chung, stars and festival-goers parade their boho best
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Huawei P8 review: best phones nobody's seen from the biggest company nobody's heard
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...