Oh, and you knew this was coming eventually, yaaaa’ll. Us southern women have never not loved our animal prints! We’ve known for decades that nothing gets the “chic and fierce” message across more succinctly, and for the past few seasons, the runways and retailers have been following suit (lucky for us!).
For our inspiration, we call upon Shania Twain in her “Don’t Impress Me Much” music video, sporting her infamous leopard-on-leopard-on-leopard ensemble. Oh, yes, I’m going there: you watched it with your girlfriends and made your fun, but I bet my sold-out leopard Sam Edelmans that you were running home to your (or your mom’s!) armoire, piling on every last printed piece you could scrounge up and hitch-hiking in the bathroom mirror.
Oh. Was that just me?
….Anyhoo!...Yes, we at Feet First have been obsessed with all things leopard, zebra, and snakeskin (Oh, my!) for quite some time, and for plenty of reason. Animal prints exhibit such intense femininity in such a direct and in-your-face kind of way that it cannot be ignored. Historically, animal skins were the original status symbol; a sure sign that either you were well-traveled enough to get one or that you were wealthy enough to purchase one from someone who was. They were considered regal and luxurious, and the connotation has certainly not changed. In the sixties and seventies, however, leopard and snakeskin began to be worn much more sartorially in the bohemian movement. These two dimensions to the look are what give it such versatility and also what allows the print to be so perfect in every woman’s wardrobe, from uptown princesses to downtown hipsters; from New York’s tough girls to Los Angeles’ laid-back bohemians. And for sassy southern ladies like yourselves!
|Vintage Azzedine Alaia Campaign, ca. 1980, lorabarbie.com|
So which print is the one for you? In reality, every animal print pretty much goes with anything except for another animal print (no, head-to-toe only works in the music videos and Alaia campaigns, people). For the brave ones, you can mix your leopard prints with a more subdued floral or stripe a la Missoni (just go easy on the accessories!), or you can play it safe and wear it with a single color. Cobalt, fuschia, red, emerald, kelly green, turquoise…it’s all good. Animal print accessories are almost always a safe thing, but to wear animal print, ensure that the print “compresses” in the places that need to appear smaller.
Leopard and cheetah print is hu-uge right now and has been for quite some time. They both send the clear implication of opulence and grandeur, not without a little tongue-in-cheek, however. The Row, Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garcons, and Milly all showed leopard for Fall, but it’s definitely been pervasive on the runways for the past few seasons. The print is in keeping with the insistent seventies vibe that everyone has been loving, yet remains luxurious and perfectly appropriate for the least trendy among us.
|L to R, clockwise: Leopard Vaneli “Pivot” oxford bootie, 169.99 Feetfirststores.com, The Row F/W 2011, style.com; Miss Piggy at Fashion Week!, coolspotters.com; Atalla Leopard Print and Black Nappa Leather Bag, 289.99, feetfirststores.com; Image from Vogue Australia, 1984; Leopard print Rain Boots, 49.99, feetfirststores.com; Leopard Print Crossbody Bag with Gold Coin Chain Strap, 195.00, feetfirststores.com; street style image, lolaandemily.blogspot.com; Josephine Baker and her cheetah, myvintagevogue.com|
Zebra, to me, is the most "sassy southern lady" of all animal prints. Wild and sexy, zebra is worn by the woman who appreciates more graphic prints, who doesn’t mind being the center of attention. Frankly, zebra print is pure glamour served straight up. Some of the most stylish southern ladies I’ve ever encountered don’t mind draping their homes in color and zebra print, regardless of how modern or traditional their décor, and their wardrobes are no different. While the print hasn’t necessarily been everywhere right now, it is my feeling that it will be in the seasons to come, especially since Tom Ford – leader of the pack! - infused it into his F/W 2011 womenswear collection.
|L to R, clockwise: Tom Ford F/W 2011, Delood.com; Detail from Peter Som S/S 2012, style.com; Guiseppe is the Monster Heel print, theblakewright.com; Libby Edelman Zebra Kendra Flat, 69.99, feetfirststores.com; Tom Ford F/W 2011, Delood.com; Image from Vogue Italia, 2009; Alexander Wang in his CRAZY apartment, refinery29.com; Zebra Print Cuff, 22.99,feetfirststores.com; Keds Safari Champion (also in leopard print!) 49.99, feetfirststores.com.|
Last, never least, is my personal favorite-for-years: snakeskin. A good snake-print is so refined 70’s disco, so extremely tasteful and versatile, and just the teensiest bit subversive. I could wallpaper my house in snakeskin I love it so much! One of my first “luxury” purchases as a teenager were a pair of red snakeskin platform ankle-strap pumps that I had saved up for and wore every chance I could. Snakeskin embodies the kind of chic that I am always craving: understated, but strong, and undeniably sexy.
L to R, clockwise: Prada FW, modelvictim.com; Mme. Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga!) in Versace snakeskin dress, coolspotters.com; Missoni F/W 2011, style.com; Lodis Veronica Snakeskin clutch (also in cognac), 159.99,feetfirststores.com; Jennifer Lopez in her “I’m Into You” video, glamazonblog.com; Chloe F/W 2011, style.com; Corso Como Delicious Pump in snakeskin (SO comfy!), due any day now (!) at Feet First and on feetfirststores.com, 129.99 (call (504)899-6800 to reserve your pair).
Pick one, pick many; drape yourself in them or just try out a shoe or handbag for starters (you can’t go wrong with that). Animal print is all about the art of owning it, so never forget your confidence, your best accessory.
Love and Fashion,