The Tortoise and the Horsehair

Animal-inspired accessories are on-trend this season, with old favorites back in the fashion news. Not only are the perennially popular leopard prints back; other beautiful designs emanating from the animal kingdom are also popular.

Tortoise (what used to be referred to as tortoiseshell) rendered in such materials as resin and patent leather appears in handbags, shoesm and jewelry, as pictured in this page from the September 2011 issue of Elle. The Perspex cuff pictured is from Burberry; the bag is from Lanvin, and the shoes are from Dries Van Noten.

The Burberry cuff reappears in the September 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which suggests that readers “Add a layer of richesse with TORTOISE extras and gilt touches.” Tortoise elements also appear in a necklace from Roger Vivier (seen top right). The gilt touches include a pendant necklace from Bulgari, ring from Michael Kors, and cuff from David Yurman. Tortoise can be seen in bags from VBH, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, and Lanvin, and in shoes from Christian Louboutin, Dries Van Noten, and Nicholas Kirkwood.

A tortoise link bracelet from Bellissima by Moschitto Designs appears in a feature on mariner-themed fashion in the November 2011 issue of Marie Claire. The goldtone pendant necklace shown is from Accessorize.

Horns and tusks also make an appearance in jewelry designs this season. The October 2011 issue of Elle pictures a mammoth tusk pendant with brown diamonds from Kimberly McDonald, and naturally shed buffalo horn earrings with white diamonds from Monique Péan. The model wears an 18k gold bracelet from Ilias Lalaounis.

The November 2011 issue of Elle features a “black-tooth charm necklace” from Isabel Marant.

Horsehair also is a trendy accent this season. The October 2011 issue of Marie Claire reports, “Horseplay goes haute: elegant add-ons and sleek frocks trimmed with equine locks.” The horsehair tassel necklaces pictured are from Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons; the horsehair-accented ring and bracelets are from Elizabeth Knight Jewelry.

In Marie Claire, writer Elana Fishman provides some context for the resurgence of an interest in horsehair: “Once upon a time, horsehair played a vital role in elegant underpinnings. Widely used in the mid-1800s to stiffen crinolines and lend shape to dramatic hats, the animal strands have since gone from structural standby to mane event.” She adds: “Far from Wild West workwear, these pieces’ neutral palettes and minimalist lines make them better suited to the boardroom than the barnyard. Just don’t call the multifunctional material a one-trick pony.”

There’s no contest: The horsehair and the tortoise are both winners this season.