Trendwatch a/w 2011: Snakeskin and reptilian prints
Fashion Editor Bairbre Power explores one of the big trends for autumn/winter 2011
Exotica enters the fashion frame this season, with a wild assortment of snakeskin and reptilian prints coming through as a major runway trend for autumn/ winter 2011.
Python is the new leopard, and simulated trompe l'oeil prints and luxury skins are prominent right across the fashion spectrum, from coats to separates, shoes to bags. It's a true walk on the wild side, with lots of accessorising snakeskin with jewel-coloured fur -- faux or real, depending on your politics and your wallet.
Critics will hiss. Snakeskin and other exotics such as python, stingray, lizard and eel haven't enjoyed a good press when they've featured on the couture catwalks, but the high street has a knack of emulating the look without resorting to the real thing.
And you don't have to go the whole hog. Just pick and chose, as you would with leopard print -- a judiciously chosen envelope clutch Ã la Prada, narrow belt to cinch in an LBD, good heels from LK Bennett or Kurt Geiger boots that go some way to capturing the leg drama achieved by Valentino.
There's nothing monochrome or mushroomy about the snakeskin story this season. It's the height of glamour in vibrant colours, and designers from the world of couture and the high street have explored a lively palette in rich jewel colours, especially green.
Miuccia Prada proved her genius yet again for autumn/winter 2011 and the Italian visionary -- who is without equal in my book -- excelled with a cocoon-shaped, emerald-green snakeskin coat, a colour also favoured by Gucci.
Charmed by the irregular patterns and density of colour, Prada admits her aim is to make sexy materials look different and to having "an obsession" with materials such as sequins, fur and python.
Chloé shared Prada's passion for pops of python, but she delivered many in simple cottons, with a particularly strong shirt dress that costs around €2,000 -- but you will find affordable and wearable versions, such as a python-print dress from Next for €59.
Bottega Veneta spiced it up with wonderful mustard and ochre notes in great, deep shoppers. Chloé's drama-filled coat is €975 from Brown Thomas and Jaeger has an ultra-smart snakeskin-print cashmere, available from Arnotts, Serena of Sandymount and Isobel of Adare, for €270.
Dries Van Noten's autumn/winter 2011 collection is a totally delicious cacophony of mixed mediums, and barber-pole-effect slingbacks, with stripes of contrasting hues that will certain attract second looks.
It wasn't just the high-end designers who fell for the snake. Holly Fulton, a gem of a find from London Fashion Week, included python dresses in her autumn collection and you will find lots of snake print online at Asos.com and Littlewoods, while high-street brands such as New Look , House of Fraser and Debenhams have some cute finds.
Kate Moss has the Midas touch for turning casual wardrobe choices into must-have buys among her legions of copycat fans. Post-wedding, she has been wearing grey snakeskin pants but, for a less restricted look, New Look has narrow-cuffed harem pants for €24.95.
Jimmy Choo has some delectable heels and in a less expensive bracket, and LK Bennett and Kurt Geiger have convincing prints. KG's very realistic fake python-print, demi-flat ankle boots are ideal for fashion- conscious walkers.