[TREND OF THE MOMENT]Fur, skin, stripes, spots ― for that ‘natural’ look

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[TREND OF THE MOMENT]Fur, skin, stripes, spots ― for that ‘natural’ look

Certain things never go out of style, such as human beings’ oldest instinct: to cover their bodies in animal hide.
Leading designers from Paris to London to New York have gone back to this tradition. Animal skins vary from ubiquitous rabbit or mink furs ― like Chanel’s clutch bag or neck collars ― to dalmatian prints, as with Celine’s new pumps and bags. Genuine reptile skins, such as alligator ― as shown on the runways of Ralph Lauren and Prada ― and python are the exotic catches from equatorial jungles. This year, look for wild game from safari, as the skins ― or, usually, prints ― of ocelot, leopard, zebra and giraffe evoke the vintage glamour of the 1960s.
Celine’s 2003/2004 fall and winter collection was all about strong contrasts in women’s wardrobes: glossy leather against massive fur coats, solid colors against wild animal prints or black against white. The “Opposites Attract” theme extended to black-and-white dalmatian, zebra and giraffe prints on soft calf skin.
The animal prints adorned slim, ’60s-style coat-dresses, A-line mini-skirts, pin-heels, boogie bags and a newly added series of lock bags.
To match the perennially classic wardrobe of Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label, Mr. Lauren included a few noticeably exotic numbers: alligator “Guinevere” boots and “Inez” booties in rich hues of wine and dark brown.
Besides checks and solids, Burberry, too, has featured a look that goes with the current trend: a natural funnel-neck fur blouson and zebra printed calf leather frame bag.
Items made of real animal hide can be very pricey, as most of these skins are produced in very limited quantities. Prints of exotic animals, or artificial furs made from polyester-and-acrylic blends, are available at more affordable prices, but affordable doesn’t necessarily mean fashionably correct. Here are some shopping tips for fake furs:
1. Spend a few hours watching Discovery Channel to study what real wild animals look like.
2. Decide whether you actually want to wear an animal’s skin.
3. Choose a favorite animal or two that might work for your wardrobe. If you own a lot of brown-based clothes, for instance, go for leopard; if black, then try zebra.
4. Go for the most realistic, or the most artistic, pattern you can find.
5. Pull a bit of fur at the hemline, or rub the fur against a woolly surface, to see if the hair comes loose. The more hair lost, the lower the quality.
6. Try it on, look straight into a mirror and ask yourself ― “Do I look rich, famous or glamorous?”

by Ines Cho
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