Leopard print – It’s not too late to Rock It!

First, for the avoidance of any doubt – this piece is about animal print on fabric – not animal fur or skin.

So, to begin – two things that I have resisted wearing all my life – animal print and pussy cat bow blouses. There have been two exceptions to this. The first is back in the 1980’s when I bought an off-white polyester blouse with appropriate Thatcherite bow, to wear with a grey suit, for my first interview for a job in ‘Business’.

Reader, I got the job! It’s possible I still have the blouse, polyester being pretty much indestructible.

More recently I bought some Stella McCartney knickers  – significantly reduced from The Outnet – with a subtle peach leopard print. So subtle in fact, I didn’t realise that’s what it was at first. Stella McCartney makes great underwear, there was no way I was going to return such a bargain despite the pattern or the ‘hand wash only’ instruction (as if……).

Now, unless you’ve been living on another planet, you will not have been able to escape the prints of leopards, tigers and other endangered big cats which have dominated almost every type of clothing or accessory collection ranging from the dizzy heights of Chanel, Gucci et al, to M&S to Primark, last season.

For a while I stuck to my principles and ignored the whole trend, dismissing it as a one-season wonder, but then saw a blouse in The Times from John Lewis (Somerset Range) rather liked it, tried it on in the Oxford Street Store and – here it is! And yes, it’s got a pussy-cat bow as well! What’s more, I love it.

The reason I like it is because the colours are strong, the print is bold and the fabric is weighty and drapes beautifully. Different from some of the ones out there are a bit, well …. Meh. More of a timorous token gesture to the trend

So here I am, looking a bit dishevelled, the bow coming undone, with a generous glass of red wine in one hand and Giovanni Raspini, a brilliant Tuscan artisan silversmith (more about him another time) on the other, at the launch of his 2019 collection.

Now, the good news is that the animal print party isn’t over, there are plenty of lovely new pieces out there for Spring and Summer. So, if you felt you missed out this winter, there’s still time to give it a try. Just don’t be subtle, go for a big statement print and then rock it for all it’s worth while it’s still ‘on trend.’

The Colour Purple

‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go….’ The famous opening lines of Jenny Jones’s, ‘Warning’? . It’s a truly wonderful poem with some unforgettably vivid images, especially the very satisfying line: ‘running my stick along the public railings’.

Yet although I love the poem, Isn’t it time to challenge it? Would our Baby Boomer generation still agree with the sentiment? Is that what a 21st century ‘Old Woman’ wants or needs to be?

‘Making up for the sobriety of my youth’ was the  reason Jenny Jones aspired to this. However, when we were teenagers of the 60’s and 70’s, were we sober? Ours – the generation who swooned over Elvis, screamed at The Beatles and Rolling Stones, read Oz Magazine under our desks, watched Woodstock, dabbled later in Punk – and a lot more besides?

Scarf from Liberty. Bat wings model’s own!

 We rebelled against the drab, spirit sapping  conformity of the 1950’s, which stifled Jenny Jones. We horrified the older generation by wearing teeny mini skirts, (thank goodness tights had just been invented and heavy beige Max Factor Pan Stick on our lips. Then later it was tie dye tops, cheesecloth, loon pants and floppy hats, followed in the 1970’s by bin liners and safety pins. Not to mention other ideas in the poem like picking flowers from other people’s gardens (if you were a flowerchild) and learning to spit (if you were that sort of Punk)! We did pretty much everything in the poem and more besides.

So, if we have already experienced the exhilaration of our own version of ‘Warning’ in the days of our youth, where do we go from here? How to avoid sobriety and invisibility setting in? I don’t have all the answers but there’s plenty of inspiration out there.

So I thought I’d start, like the poem, with the colour purple, as I seem to have acquired quite a bit of. Here are my very conservative attempts. The shoes above are Bottega Veneta: an extravagant pre Christmas present to myself. They are not only divine but also very comfortable, beautifully made and go with everything. The scarf above is Liberty. Light as a cloud and a Christmas present to accompany the shoes.

Another Liberty scarf. Coat Hobbs from a few seasons ago. Possibly more mauve than purple.

Purple, my experimenting reveals, goes brilliantly with navy and demin, which is just as well. Have a go. I bet your efforts are better than mine. I’d love to see and I hope this has made you smile.