Leopard print is back, and this time it’s had a modern makeover

Last week marked the return of Kat Slater to Albert Square.

For many, this EastEnders plotline development will have brought about as much excitement as the words routine root-canal filling.

Not me, I was hooked.

Along with an en-masse bar brawl, two fake deaths, a loan shark, a cash scam, a Walford’s Got Talent show and a dodgy meat raffle, Slater’s explosive return to our TV screens brought with it her best- known trademarks: lashings of lip gloss and leopard print.

Kat Slater, EastEnders BBC Nicky Johnston

Only Phil Mitchell narrowly escaped the leopard-print-and-fake-tan dress code that accompanied the RIP benefit bash in the Queen Vic see fake death. It was clear Kat had not changed her spots and yet, in fashion circles, her signature print is an entirely reformed beast.

See Roberto Cavalli — Italy’s spiritual home of leopard print which has a new designer at its helm. A British minimalist, no less, who honed his clean-cut aesthetic at Calvin Klein and Jil Sander. Since his arrival, Paul Surridge has led a quiet revolution — one that seeks to translate Cavalli’s maximalist, sex-pot sizzle into the wardrobes of women who don’t spend their life rubbing perfectly bronzed shoulders with the super-rich in Saint-Tropez. Key to this is the reinvention of its signature animal print. “For me it’s almost the logo for the house,” says Surridge. “The most important thing is evolving it and making it feel modern and fresh.”

For next season this means classic leopard clashed with snakeskin and zebra as well as a shift in focus to daywear. But for Surridge, this new approach shouldn’t detract from the print’s potency. “You can change the colour, the scale, the texture, but the language of the print is always powerful. When you put it on it changes the way you feel. It changes your stature. You don’t put animal print on to sit in the corner.” Surridge also believes that fashion’s current infatuation with leopard can be linked to the #MeToo movement. “There’s the subliminal message that when people put animal print on they’re in charge. That’s why it’s so important at this moment in time. I think it’s a lot to do with women and designers reflecting on the power and place for women today.”

Elsewhere on the catwalk, fashion’s leading female figures are also seeking to empower with this print. Stella McCartney SS18 AFP Images Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller splayed leopard onto demure day dresses, softened with a mix of floral and polka dot, while long-time animal print lover Stella McCartney offered up delicate embroidered leopard organza summer dresses and jumpsuits in shades of sunflower and blush. Victoria Beckham AW18

In September Victoria Beckham also gave the iconic leopard print coat a makeover, swapping faux fur for chenille jacquard, originally sourced in an old Venetian upholstery mill. It’s Beckham’s belief that this print’s appeal is both irresistible and universal — even among those who are not in the Kat Slater camp. “There’s something quite ironic about leopard print,” she said, ahead of her show. “We had the whole collection in the studio and all the girls were gravitating towards the leopard. I think women just can’t help it.” Essentiel Antwerp printed dress £355 Clearly this trend has legs on the high street too. Hot picks include Essentiel Antwerp’s rainbow shirt dress and Topshop’s wrap pyjama shirt. Pyjama shirt, £39, Topshop Lip gloss optional.

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