Trend Watch: Where the Wild Things Are – Animal Jewelry for Fall 2009

Animal motifs have returned as a popular trend for the fall 2009 season. They appear not only in elaborately printed fabrics, but also in exciting designs in jewelry. Take note, however, that this is not the season for fluffy birds and delicate butterflies. This season is about animals with teeth… or fangs. It’s about some of the most dangerous of wild things.

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Illustration: The model in this Oscar de la Renta ad looks almost feral in her leopard print long-sleeved blouse and hosiery.

Two specific groups of animals motifs are particularly notable. One motif is any variety of wildcat. Leopard print, a perennial favorite, appears on everything from dresses to shoes to print hosiery. People magazine had a one-page spread on animal prints that includes not only a selection of leopard-print items, but also an inexpensive panther head ring from Rumor. Of course, the panther motif has become a classic since Cartier introduced the Panthere de Cartier in 1914 as a symbol of “triumphant femininity,” as related on the Cartier web site.

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Illustration: A feature story on animal prints from the August 24, 2009 issue of People.

The second popular motif is that of the snake, popular as a symbol of eternal love in the days of Queen Victoria and a symbol of eternity going back to ancient Egypt. The September 2009 issue of Marie Claire magazine features the snake motif: “Slithering onto everything from decorative plates and strappy stilettos to shoulder bags and bangles, these reptiles can make any look seem slightly dangerous.” Watch bands are another great place to enjoy the beautiful pattern of snakeskin.

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Illustration: Marie Claire features snake earrings from Kara Ross and bracelets from Fallon, along with a cobra ring from Wallace Chan [not pictured here].

Perhaps the interest in the snake motif derives in part from the new Serpenti collection of jewelry introduced by Bulgari in commemoration of its 125th Anniversary. The event received a two-page spread in the September 2009 issue of Elle magazine, which relates: “Bulgari has had a relationship with the snake since the 1940s, when the Italian jeweler introduced the Tubogas coil technology to its international clientele.”

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Illustration: A portion of the Elle magazine article about the new Bulgari collection.

This is also the perfect season to read all about Madeleine Albright’s use of brooches to convey subtle and not-so-subtle messages, as described in her new book Read My Pins, to be released later this month. The September 2009 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine relates the story that Albright wore a bejeweled snake “after a Saddam Hussein loyalist called her a ‘serpent’-a masterstroke of elegant defiance.”

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Illustration: Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, pictured with Nelson Mandela and wearing a zebra pin on her shoulder.

Symbols of elegant defiance, eternal love and triumphant femininity – is it any wonder that wild things “captured” in jewelry will always be cherished?