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Spotted cat looks are stalking fall fashion, and women are pouncing upon the latest fare with excitement and zest. Everywhere you look, fashion is taking on an African mentality, with jungle images exciting a native vitality and mesmerizing with pure natural beauty. Of course, the skins are faux (copied incredibly well), which allows us to satisfy our lust for animal beauty without the price of life.  We don’t have to kill anymore. 


Here are some typical highlights of the newest African intrigue:   


  1. The diamond ultra-corporation De Beers, originally the mining and marketing diamond behemoth, crossed over into jewelry design some time back.  Their latest offering is The Talisman Collection of African-mask pendants, with large channels of clear and brown diamonds forming a tribal face.  Name of one:

The Gugu-Nimba Amulet Pendant.  Do not ask the price. 

  1. Spotted cats provide the pattern for plush leopard print fedora, cloches, and other wintry hats and caps.
  2. Leopards claw their way onto the fashion scene in exquisite print clutches and handbags by Ralph Lauren, along with many others.
  3. Silvery animal horns are growing dramatically more popular, used especially as pendants, and sometimes looking almost lethal when used in multiples as a chocker. 
  4. Python skins are hot, hot, hot.  Major use: handbags.  Also search out fabulous looking snakeskin designs in bangle bracelets.
  5.  Zebra stripes give the latest black/white color rush new meaning. See them on clutch bags, handbags, bangles.
  6. Vera Wang works brilliantly with snakeskin looks. Check out her striking pearled      snake necklace that curls around the neck without a closure.
  7. Spots and stripes mix in profusion as SOHO comes forth with a spectacular     collection of diamond-faceted horn,-like bangle bracelets.  Elegant!



SEEING SPOTS:  In the apparel field, Michael Kors has a winner in his mink collared black-spotted crepe tan coat.  Not to be outdone, Ralph Lauren has a range of leopard print clutches and handbags fit for any Fifth Avenue safari.  The fedora, this season’s ultra chic choice, can be had in a variety of felt leopard finishes.  The same holds true of warm-weather velvet caps and hooded scarves:  watch for the leopard spots-they’re fast movers this season.


But the leopard isn’t the only animal making inroads in fashion.  Classic zebra black and white stripes imprint clutch bags as well as bangles.  And, though there are no tigers native to Africa, the tiger’s unique markings are almost as prevalent in any fashion hunt, giving it an added boost of desirability.  Look for tiger prints in scarves and leather accessories, especially.  One fine jeweler combines enameled cat markings on a collection of bangles with a single station of clustered diamonds.  Wild and refined, combined.


SNAKES GO COSTUME:  Staying in a dangerous mode, luxurious snake designs are reemerging as a favorite jewelry theme. And, don’t forget, snakes have always been a major design image for fine jewelry, dating back to ancient Egypt. Now, they can slink through both fine and costume jewelry, with equal panache.  Vera Wang creates an impressive snake-like necklace with a double strand of pearls making up the body, both ends tipped with detailed silver.  The necklace curls loosely around the neck, without a closure. Positioning of the necklace is also snake-like in its flexibility.  Other forms of serpentine art are multiplied in bracelets and rings. 


Children’s jewelry is always a site to find animal charms such as paw prints or lions, elephants or giraffes, mingling in a stretch bracelet.  Elephants (politics aside) are big in every respect:  not only do they look marvelous on cuff or link silver plate bracelets, but people everywhere believe that, if the elephant’s trunk is raised, the elephant is sure to bring good luck.  So elephants make for an excellent gift choice.


DRAGONFLIES AND BEETLES: Other exotic life  forms crowding jewelry counters are enameled colored crystal bird brooches — not to mention pin-makers’ penchant for the whole world of insects such as butterflies, bees, spiders, ladybirds, dragonflies and beetles. The quality craftsmanship in select brooches conceals their present-day origins, as many look like priceless heirloom pieces from the Victorian age.


Art Nouveau techniques are popular in the latest African-inspired trend, especially in silver-plate pendants featuring charming depictions of giraffes, zebras and elephants, alone or grouped.  Gold highlights and metalworking detail add to charming realism, and many pendants have pin backs to allow for double fashion duty.



More and more customers choose to make up their own charm bracelet menageries, and they can mine the dozens of silver-plated charms available that feature wildlife from just about every continent:  monkeys, lions, rhinos, elephants, rabbits, bear, buffalo, and alligators.  And it’s just a short skip over to the domestic animal collections of dogs, cats, fish and birds. 


TRY A BUYING SAFARI:  So open your doors to some untamed newcomers. Go natural. Go green.  Bask in the gorgeous light of the Dark Continent’s most precious creations. Travel the buyer’s circuit.  There’s a lot of animal magnetism in fashion; it looks good, and sells even better.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

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