Fashion seems to be going right back to children’s storybooks, finds Vishnupriya Bhandaram

Furry friends, scaly reptiles and cute birds have been on the fashion agenda for a long time, inspiring many a hipster to put on shell-framed glasses and sport a T-shirt with an owl on it. An obsession with the cute and furry is now a part of high street fashion.

Jungle stripes and spots have reigned since way back in 1998 when Shania Twain wore a leopard print for the hit song ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much”, but now buyers favour singular animal prints like cats, owls, hounds and foxes in addition to birds. Karishma Rajani, a fashion blogger who runs purplepeeptoes.com, feels that popular culture and fashion have once again crossed lines. She says, “What started off as black, brown and beige adaptation of the animal’s skin ran into the wild, underwent a colour transformation and returned in an avatar that caused the leopard family to face a serious case of identity crisis!” Animals continue to be a very big part of the mainstream and high street fashion.

Karuna Reddy, a fashion stylist, takes note of the trend. “It’s more accessible now because it is easy for people to look at prints they like and get them printed,” she says. “Just the other day I saw a girl wearing a library on her dress — this imagery of old bookshelves. It isn’t just about animals, the trend is now to wear your mind.” Content on social media is also influencing a large chunk of ‘wearable’ fashion because it really is easy to create a style statement when you can print ‘The Grumpy Cat’ meme on a T-shirt and get away with it. So at a certain level, visual imagery can be linked to the burgeoning popularity of memes.

Ramp collections are also featuring animals. Givenchy brought in fierce and intense animal motifs, whereas Jil Sanders’ collections have used dinosaurs, whales and fish with abandon. Burberry, the British luxury brand, introduced the Prorsum line with animal motifs and prints; the owl and fox faces on the collections are not naturalistic but quirky in their design — geometric and chalk-like.

Indian designer Masaba Gupta showcased an Indianised motif of an ox in the Lakme Fashion week 2012/2013.

Apart from the ox, you can see a Madhubani-inspired motif of a bird on her dresses. These saris were picked up by fashionistas like Sonam Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty. Manish Arora took inspiration from the woodland creatures and brought out an animal inspired collection. Like all fashion trends, woodland creatures are bound to reach a saturation point, but meanwhile, get creative and re-invent your wardrobe.

Max, the lifestyle store, has a neat collection of bird prints and cat prints on sheer blouses. If you are not a big fan of animals on your clothing but want to make most of this trend anyway, you could always accessorise. Pick up brooches, hair clips or pendants featuring jaguars, owls, butterflies or beetles and turn a simple attire fashionable.

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