STYLE Fashion seems to be going right back to children’s storybooks what with woodland creatures inspiring apparel

Furry friends, scaly reptiles and cute birds have been on the fashion agenda for a long time, inspiring many a hipster to don shell-framed glasses and sport a T-shirt with an owl on it. An obsession with the cute and furry is now 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, feels popular culture and fashion have once again crossed lines. She says, “What started off as black, brown and beige adaptation of animal skin 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 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.

It’s not just street fashion that is welcoming animals, ramp collections too do so. Givenchy brought in fierce animal motifs; Jil Sanders’ collections have used dinosaurs, whales and fish with careless 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 realistic but quirky in their design — geometric and chalk-like.

Indian designer Masaba Gupta recently 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 drew inspiration from woodland creatures and brought out an animal-inspired collection.

If there is one common element in all these apparel designs, it’s the element of whimsical fun. So, get creative and re-invent your wardrobe. If you are not a big fan of animals on your clothing but want to make the most of this trend anyway, you could always accessorise. Pick up brooches — jaguars, owls, butterflies or beetles — hair clips or pendants and turn a simple attire fashionable.