The Imaginary Animal in Fashion
Jungle, The Imaginary Animal in Fashion is the catalogue of the exhibition that opened at La Venaria Reale, in Turin. Accompanied by critical texts from M. Bobbioni, P. Calefato, V. Caratozzolo, C. Corbetta, L. Gallo Orsi, S. Gnoli, A. Mancinelli, F. Muzzarelli, L. Scarlini and S. Segre Reinach, this book historicises the evolution of the animal phenomenon in fashion and, therefore, in our collective imagination.
Cataloguing the evolution of animal print
The institutionalisation of spotted patterns in designer fashion is something that characterises the modern era. Modern fashion as inaugurated by haute couture was bound to take an interest in the animal coat. “Jungle: The Imaginary Animal in Fashion” was the first exhibition dedicated to this topic. It explored the evolution of the coat in its various animal forms, ever since Christian Dior infused his clothing lines with animal prints. The animal print can be seen as an ancient totem that reveals European exoticism, stemming from the imperialist roots of the last century. Throughout time, the style has taken on a variety of different forms up to the kaleidoscope of shapes and colours displayed in the exhibition.
Can a leopard change its spots?
Man has always had the impulse to wear animal skins, whether it is done to emulate the animals’ strength, out of vanity, or for a host of other reasons. The animal today has lost much of its association with transgression and eroticism. The great designers and the dynamic fashion brands were quick to reinterpret the style in an anarchic and discontinuous manner. It then became a staple of the essential wardrobe, joining the ranks of sailor stripes, polka dots, white shirts and black dresses. The street style project complements the exhibition with photographs taken from the street, testifying to the ubiquity of the animal print. Yet, compared to other classic fashion, the animal print stays true to its unique compositional grammar and its irreducibility to trivialisation.