Photos, clockwise from top left: Rod Stewart (1978); Dick Clark, Pat Boone, and Jerry Lee Lewis (1958); Keith Richards (1974).
Musicians have long had a lock on untamed prints. But now designers are making the case that your second skin should have a feral feel too.
If rock stars have taught us anything, it's that in dressing, as in other things, the rules don't apply to them. There is no better example than their ability to pull off animal prints in excess. Consider Rod Stewart, who famously sat for a 1973 cover of Rolling Stone in a full leopard-print suit. Or better yet, Keith Richards in 1974, oozing coolness from every pore, with a dangling cigarette and a fitted leopard-print coat that makes as bold a statement as a face tattoo. On Richards, this second skin accentuates his status as a magnetic creature who demands our attention on and off stage (it doesn't hurt that he has the wiry, heroin-aided frame of a 13-year-old boy, making virtually any loud print or pattern a possibility). The rest of us, however, would run the very real risk of channeling Fred Flintstone. And yet, this fall, designers are intent on proving that animal prints—leopard, python, zebra, tiger—can inject sophisticated attitude into any wardrobe. The caveat (listen up, Dennis Rodman and Real Housewives hairdressers) is to exercise moderation. Look at pieces like Louis Vuitton's monochromatic gray coat or the classic lace-ups Burberry sent down the runway. And take a cue from Jerry Lee Lewis —with leopard, you don't have to try so hard; it does all the work for you.
From left: Louis Vuitton, Mihara Yasuhiro, Saint Laurent, Burberry.