Fashion

Why We Need to Take Another Look at Animal Prints

Animal prints never seem to go out of style.
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“You may be telling yourself that you’d never wear, ‘God forbid, leopard.’”

Historically, women have never been able to resist the “call of the wild.” Some iconic fashion moments come to mind such as Diana Vreeland wandering the Hamptons in matching turban and kaftan. In the '60s and '70s, the animal print got a reincarnation as a staple of rocker chic, with a printed coat thrown over a band t-shirt and leather pants ensemble (or so Hedi Slimane in his YSL days had us believe). In the ‘80s, animal prints became the symbol of Italian glamour, where any self-respecting fashionista draped her curves in Versace or Roberto Cavalli.

The '90s gave us with Sex and the City and there was a choose-your-own-attitude approach when it came to wearing animal prints: Were you a classic dame with just a hint of zebra in the ribbon of your sun hat like Charlotte? Or were you more of the vamp oozing sexuality in skin-tight, snakeskin dresses like Samantha? Did you adapt a subtler attitude when it came to prints, only exclusively “letting loose” and wearing that tiger-print scarf around your neck on the weekend like Miranda?

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Ultimately, everyone just wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw who always managed to bring appropriate amounts of playful girlishness to any outfit such as when she wore that cheetah print bandeau top with an orange sun hat and striped pareo.

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You may be telling yourself that you’d never wear, “God forbid, leopard,” and that perhaps it was your mother’s print or maybe even your grandmother’s print, but both the catwalk and pop culture have managed to offer an irresistible incarnation of the trend with every passing decade.

Today, animal prints are still going strong on the feeds of Instagram royalty such as the Kardashians and Emily Ratajowski. Sure, wearing animal prints can deliver a mixed message: They are at once powerful but they also carry an undeniably sexual connotation. If you’re not careful, you can come across as vampy. Although, what could possibly be so wrong about the animalistic cry of “I am on the prowl? I am going for the hunt. I exude sexy confidence and I know it, and I am a woman who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.” Picture Beyonce sauntering around a deserted island in a fierce-looking leopard print bikini like in the music video Survivor.

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It’s that whole story about being a super empowered and independent female that couldn’t be more on point. And maybe that’s the trick behind this trend. Prints are known to be notoriously difficult to pull off, but animal prints do not lose their mystique over time. Looking for an instant pick-me-up or a boost of confidence before that hot date or big presentation at work? You are probably not going to reach for the navy and white stripes, though they are trust-worthy.

I admit, that I myself have always been somewhat shy of animal prints. The most I’ve ever invested in the trend was a pair of Lizzie McGuire-esque espadrilles. It’s probably a Manila trait, you know? A few seasons have passed with several designers trying to make the leopard thing happen. And while there are a few daring ladies who have always been loyal to the jungle decade after decade, there’s still resistance from the majority to wear something that might make them stand out too loud.

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Escaping the city this summer to an exotic locale or beach, I think that I shall finally take the plunge. It might be fun to play a different character for once, to slip into another’s skin and feel the “fierceness” pierce its way through my body with the cry of “I am woman! Hear me roar!” Why not?

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About The Author
Nicole Tantoco de los Reyes
Nicole has a deep background in both retail and publishing. She had a series of internships in publications, which led her to her first job as an editorial assistant for a lifestyle magazine. Today, she works as an associate research assistant for Rustan's creative office. As a self-confessed bookworm, she draws a lot of inspiration from the things she reads as well as from several creative people in the fashion industry. With her work in retail and writing, she hopes to help others discover and unlock their own creativity and talent.
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