Top Animal Inspirations in Fashion
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Top Animal Inspirations in Fashion

Posted by Anthony on 12/25/2012 to Fashion
Fashion designers have often looked to the natural world for inspiration. Metals, floral motifs and animal elements have all proven to be popular and enduring designs in fashion.

Leather is a chic and timeless material for coats, gloves, shoes and bags. It is made from the tanned hide of an animal. Reptile skins such as crocodile, ostrich or snakeskin are a more fashion forward choice of material, and these styles make eye-catching accessories. Pelts, or animal furs, are perfect for winter climates as they provide warmth against chilling winter winds. Mink and fox are timeless furs valued for their sheen and soft touch while leopard and zebra are trendy pelts and feel rougher to the touch.

No fabric can compete with leather when it comes to handbag and accessory materials. In addition to their rich, natural appearance, leather fashion bags are durable and strong. They last forever and can become heirlooms. As a result, vintage leather pieces are often more highly valued than new pieces.

There are many types of animal hide used in making bags. Cowhide is the most common type of leather used for commercial purposes. It is somewhat textured and very strong. Kip, or steer hide, is an older and less supple version of cowhide. Calf skin is smoother than cowhide and looks nice on smaller bags and accessories. Untreated cowhide that is left to develop a natural patina is called vachetta, and it is typically used as trim on leather fashion bags. Sheep and lambskin are lighter than cowhide, and they have a finer grain as well. Suede is made by turning the animal hide inside out and treated to have a napped, velvet-like finish while buckskin is cow skin that has been treated to have a suede-like finish.

Types of leather fashion bags include the satchel, tote, clutch, hobo and backpack. Satchels, totes and backpacks are often made from cowhide and kip because those leathers are stronger and can tolerate more weight. Clutches, hobos and wallets can be made from any kind of leather. Luxury designers like to use calf skin or lambskin for these smaller bags because those leathers have a smoother surface that is suitable for hand-held accessories.

Designers often jazz up leather fashion bags with surface treatments. The leather can be dyed bright colors, embossed with a pattern, stamped with a logo, tiled with studs or distressed to indicate age. Patent leather has trended in and out of high fashion ever since it was invented in the 19th century. It is leather with a shiny, almost plastic-looking finish. For a less reflective finish that is popular on leather fashion bags, try glazed leather instead of patent leather.

Many shoe designers have been inspired by animal elements as well. Embossed leather and textured skins such as crocodile were all over the runways at the Fall 2012 fashion shows, and the trend continued at the Spring 2013 shows as well. Many designers fashioned whimsical booties out of textured hides and elegant high boots out of smooth leather.

The Spring 2013 runways also showed a continuation of the trend of animal-inspired trompe l’oeil design patterns printed onto fabric. Maxi dresses and loose separate sets for women were shown made from fabrics with an oversized leopard print. Printed tees and leather and leopard skin handbags also made an appearance on the runways. Animal styles in beiges and tans have essentially become a new neutral in the eyes of the top couturiers. They go with every outfit and can tie together a disparate wardrobe to create a sophisticated, effortless style.

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