Animal prints, like camo patterns, seem to be a style that will never completely wither away. They might go away for a while, come back unnoticed in subtle touches here and there, but eventually, they always resurface in full (visual) force. If the question comes up among editors or younger crowds, it is often mentioned that the look is overdone and not so subtle, by times associated with a style proudly boasted by lower and higher peripheries of a socio-economic spectrum. Yet, animal prints are back in full strength this season, making a bright, elegant, and occasionally youthful return. Reinterpreted and applied to visually break the consistency of outfits, define them, or simply to add an extra strong touch to bold looks, the iconic print is being embraced by a wide range of designers. Well into NYFW Fall 2019’s showcasing, this statement trend is likely to echo on and be adopted by women of all ages and backgrounds. To quote a fellow journalist with whom I was discussing the topic in passing after Kate Spade’s show: “maybe it’s all about that need to be reminded of the natural world.” Why not; maybe that’s it.
LaQuan Smith Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
If there is one single thing LaQuan Smith's A-list clientele – which includes Beyoncé and last night's Grammy winner Cardi B – can expect for sure from his design, it's glamour and sexiness. His collections have become must-haves and, as the attendees of his Fall 2019 show found their seating, chatted, and looked around, the energy that stemmed from that certain expectation – buzzy and engaged – was definitely palpable. Trading in some of his previous recognizable prints for a varied assortment of leopards and tartans, if the number of phones snapping away is an indicator of success, it would seem Smith met his audience's expectations. Some memorable highlights included transparent leopard turtlenecks layered under power suit jackets and a fluffy coat, and a striking and unquestionably risqué nearly nude bodysuit.
Ulla Johnson Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.
Ulla Johnson, like Tory Burch, knows her woman very well, one of the many reasons she has a dedicated following. She understands that clothing is not just about a product but about providing women with a sense of beauty and power, even beyond the sense of luxury. Her use of prints (and textures) this season did just that – add a touch of lushness and joy to many of the outfits – and various animal prints, from zebra to leopard, found their place in that aesthetic intent on her signature dresses, pants, and boots.
Backstage at the R13 Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photos by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.
R13's designer Chris Leba has often looked at the vintage spectrum of fashion as a way to creatively direct his collections. This time around was no exception and the American designer – along with various other designers this season – turned his attention to the fashion era of grunge (maybe even punk), combining an "I found this in my grandparent's attic" feel with a crafty attention to detail approach. It made sense then that the leopard print coats featured in the collection felt over-sized and chunky, not unlike those you might find in some unexplored and dusty second-hand store. Which is not to say it didn't work; it did. The same approach was applied to a pair of large, fluffy (Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love inspired?) pants in leopard print, and a remarkable ear flap hat.
Kate Spade Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
Kate Spade's inception as a brand might have taken place almost two decades ago with a single nylon bag (and accessories continue to be the label's bread and butter), but this season marked another decisive and well-orchestrated venture into the ready-to-wear world. Boasting rich colors and 70s silhouettes, the collection also offered bold and bright animal prints, namely by way of an eye-catching red shirt-dress in leopard and a few coats, including the instant audience favorite purple coat in leopard print.
Nicole Miller Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
Nicole Miller's Fall 2019 collection, which carried a youthful vibe, was about making way in your everyday but without forgetting to have fun and, when possible, to take things less seriously. Touching on a 90s grunge aesthetic (think plaids, circa 1995 John Depp beanies, metal chains, and Pearl Jam combat boots), Miller also kept it more modern by way of fabrication and by updating some of the looks to today's standards. This, for example, was the case of the embroidered mini-dress paired with a vibrantly red faux-fur coat in leopard.