From leopard spots to zebra stripes, designers always favor animal prints.
Where animal prints began: When Europeans began colonizing Asia and Africa in the 18th century, they brought home the skins of the leopards, tigers, and zebras that they found there. Those exotic patterns were soon reproduced on fabrics (for the über-rich, of course), leaving their mark on clothing and decor. Two centuries later, sex symbols like Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe harnessed the prints’ come-hither magnetism.
Why it keeps coming back: Animal prints are like neutrals—they’re made up of brown, beige, and black, after all. “They’re seasonless, and you can wear them with almost anything,” says Jaffe. Plus, they add a little edge to your wardrobe.
How to wear animal print now: You can wear it whole or hit the spot in small doses if you fear the print will swallow you whole, for example, animal print accessories.
Zebra is new leopard print? What to do in the face of an autumn winter season which is littered with leopard – having been spotted on the catwalks at Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana and Bottega Veneta? One can of course embrace it whole heartedly. But for those after an alternative safari-based outfit accent – may I suggest zebra.
Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-A-Porter said “leopard is a classic go-to, zebra feels more imaginative and unexpected” and suggests wearing the print via punky accessories. Aitken sees the rise of zebra as part of fashion’s move towards magpie eclecticism.
Vogue’s fashion features editor Ellie Pithers agrees that “Now that every man and his dog owns a leopard print coat, I’d counsel introducing zebra into your wardrobe. Its monochromatic stricture seems fresh and less obvious than a Really Wild Show big cat print. I’ve got my eye on a zippy zebra print J Crew bag, and a Topshop silk dress emblazoned with the colour. It looks great with yellow which is everywhere for autumn.”
Jil Sander Pink Sweater
Topshop Unique Zebra Skirt
Manolo Blahnik Sandal
Photos by Lei Li