It’s a fashion jungle out there. There’s a never ending quest from era to era for animal stripes and spots and the mode still ‘has legs’ – no ebb in sight.
You may have to walk the walk and talk the talk in our urban settings, but in deepest darkest East Africa, where the animal is king, they set the fashion styles witnessed during my trip into Africa. Many international designers copy these ‘print’s, perhaps not even being aware that they have imitated real wildlife. But there’s no better inspiration than the colourful feathers of the birds and the subtle camouflaged tones of the animals.
Bateleur Camp, Kenya: Viewed my first zebra and then this thought occurred. Just look at the rear of those high ‘tush’ dazzle of zebra. It looks just a like a New York hooker in black and white stripes, far too tight, tights, strolling on stiletto heels. So very Donatella Versace. And the Pack of Spotted Hyena may have an hysterical laugh but their fur would do well by Fendi and that’s no laughing matter. Only Dolce et Cabbana could take a wildebeest’s legs, giraffe’s tail, buffalo’s horns and make it work
Near Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Tanzania: Judging from the puff of pink clouds from the hundreds of pastel coloured storks wading in Lake Manyara National Park, pink is definitely this year’s new black. And Chanel’s king Karl (Lagerfeld) certainly comes to mind as I remember my very first Chanel ensemble, so bubble gum hued- stylish and forever. And the hanging fur of the Troop of Olive Baboon, jumping from tree to tree, have that casual knitted unique look of knitwear queen Sonia Rykiel while the elegant Klipspringer certainly could become the best of the season’s Gucci shoe.
In the two million year old Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania) near the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, where bush meets Baroque in décor, it’s the playground for numerous species. The graceful Thompson Gazelles immediately conjured up images of that status symbol shoe maker Manolo Blahnik. Their lovely tawny color with a touch of white and a dash of black would be the perfect boot. Calvin Klein would fare well here with the very clean look of the chic Impala- sleek, spare lines. Ralph Lauren hits the target with smooth khaki coloured lion skin. It’s so very safari, very Lauren-ish. However, no one could handle the lion’s mane but New York hair-stylist supreme, Frederic Fekkai.
Not far from Grumeti River Camp: Too bad the elephant has such a bad tailor. The fit of his grey flannel-look is miserable and certainly would never get him a job on Wall Street. You can see why they stick to bulls and bears, whose fit are marginally better.. The large raft of hippos is where Dana Buckman meets big woman . Crocodiles would be Louis Vuitton’s favoured skin although La Coste beat LV to the logo but, so what ! As for the ostrich’s bit of this-and-that- print, it’s definitely Gaultier, while the journey of giraffe, with those long necks, stunning creatures that they are, may have simple clean lines but their play of squares and triangles of muddy beige or putty on ecru is very Armani.
Klein’s Camp in the Kuka Hills, Tanzania: Some animals are harder to pin point. For instance, the primary colours of the Grey Crowned Crane, is it an Emmanuel Ungaro or Christian La Croix?. With the shot of yellow, a touch of red and a bit of black, these primary colours work so well together creating a great palette on any catwalk in any fashion centre. And the leopard could only be a brooch or pendant from Cartier- (but, been there done that with the Duchess of Windsor).
All the East African camps/lodges are so romantic, I just couldn’t forget marriage and honeymoons. Wedding gown maven Vera Wang’s sexy and original designs would fit the slim, trim egret, lovely Malachite Kingfisher, African Jacana and the Secretarybird.
So neat, so classic but with a cutting edge is the cheetah,
and so Bill Blass
The blue thighed Topi are Diesels’ blue denim from jeans to jackets and everything denim in between.
And since the tiny tots are now caught in the fashion frenzy, the cute Kirk’s Dik-dik (the smallest in the antelope family) is so Baby Gap.
Forget Paris, forget Milan and New York. Everyday is a fashion day in the wilds of East Africa.
Article by Barbara Kingstone
Pictures by M. Maxine George
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