This ’90s Wardrobe Staple Is Making A Fierce Comeback

4 min read
Roberto Cavalli AW22

Thought animal print was well and truly extinct? Prepare to be proved wrong. They’re back on the prowl in a big way for AW22, this time with a distinctly adult makeover

For some it’s a trend that never goes out of style. For others, it rotates in and out of fashion every few seasons. If the likes of Ganni, Roberto Cavalli, Celine and long-time leopard print lovers Dolce & Gabbana have anything to say about it, however, we’ll all be taking a walk on the wild side once more this season. “Animal prints have the ability to elevate any outfit and make an instant statement,” says Lana Qatramiz, private client stylist at Farfetch. “Not only can you easily integrate them into your outfits, but these kinds of prints are also fun because you can dress them up or down for any look you are putting together. Always remember to experiment with different textures and fabrics, whether it’s leather, faux furs or cowhide to see what you feel comfortable in.”

Etro AW22

Perhaps the most popular of member of the animal kingdom — from fashion’s point of view, at least — leopard first gained popularity when Christian Dior championed the print in the ‘50s, and since then it’s been spotted on everyone from Jennifer Lopez to chic French actress Catherine Deneuve, who wore the leopard spotted designs of her dear friend Yves Saint Laurent throughout his career. Kate Moss has been partial to a bit of leopard over the years, and who could forget Naomi Campbell in head-to-toe cheetah at Azzedine Alaïa’s AW91 show? “Historically, animal print has been used in the industry to create a real wow effect, and Naomi is the perfect example,” adds Qatramiz. “For me, it was a truly iconic moment in fashion.”

Valli AW22

Despite the prominence of animal prints, fashion fans have fallen into two distinct camps on the subject, with some believing the trend errs on the wrong side of classy. But this time around designers are meeting somewhere in the middle, with the look being reinterpreted in traditional silhouettes to give it a more grown-up feel. And it’s not just leopard — we saw cheetah, zebra and snakeskin reworked in fresh new ways on the catwalk. Leading the pack, Roberto Cavalli’s creative director Fausto Puglisi revisited the founder’s animalia-mania with cheetah and leopard unitards, capes and oversized suits. Displaying a well-balanced mix of structured shoulders and blazers with flowing gowns and robes, each piece holds a sleek appeal, exuding power on par with the animals themselves. Etro also showed a glamorous, flowing leopard print maxi dress alongside a cozy zebra print-lined jacket, top of our wish list for winter.

Go big or stay home – commit to the cause and go print-on-print

As fashion month continued, more and more collections gave animal print a polished update by focusing on tailoring and trendier silhouettes. We saw full length coats and blazers at St John, Jil Sander and Dries Van Noten, while at Celine, snake print midi-skirts came teamed with light sweaters that are perfect for the cooler UAE evenings. For an even more subtle take on the trend, look to Giambattista Valli where, alongside full-length double-breasted coats, we saw lighter jackets with leopard print details that are a perfect entry point into the trend.

Feeling shy? Use animal print accessories to add interest to neutral ensembles

Leopard, tiger, cheetah — oh my. There’s plenty of prints doing the rounds this season, but if you’re new to trend, Qatramiz advises kicking things off with a little cow hide print. “It has basic colours that are good neutrals and can align with any colour palette,” she says. “You can start by playing with a black and white base and then add in accessories for a finished look. Dalmatian and zebra also have solid colours, and a good rule of thumb is to search for animal print pieces that you can recycle and re-wear with most of your wardrobe. If you find something that is unique but simple, you can pair it with your favourite pair of jeans to create maximum impact.” If you’re already a big fan but looking to work the print in a more grown-up way, there are a few key rules to follow this season, including not mixing with other prints or bold colours, and always focusing on the quality of the fabric. “If you’re not quite ready to go all out, you could also opt for animal print accessories instead to create a minimal or low-key look,” adds Qatramiz, who suggests elevating a look by adding in a pair of cowboy boots, a small handbag or a statement jacket in your favourite print. “Animal print has been part of the fashion industry for so long that you won’t go wrong,” she concludes. “Always keep in mind that these prints can instantly pair with and elevate your wardrobe essentials to a whole new level.”

Read Next: Watch Celine Unveil Its Summer 2023 Collection

  • Words by Naomi Chadderton