Fashion Update: Loving Leopard

November 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Fashion

As I’ve mentioned, probably more than once, this season is all about the classics. And that means: if ever there was an abundance of great fashion for the over-40 woman, it’s here and now. So many collections feature beautifully tailored, useful pieces that are timeless investments. As Daniela Agnelli, Style Director for the London Telegraph Magazine pronounced: “Fall 2010 is all about a proud and confident woman; the clothes are really wearable and easy to translate from the catwalk into a real life.”

Finally! And how to put a little fun into the mix of classic neutrals? The hot accent this season is leopard.

Now, it’s not as if leopard had ever fallen out of favor. But as Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz declared, it’s time to “take all these animal prints out of the jungle and into the city.”

The leader of the pack, in terms of extravagance, has to be this Balmain chain-embellished calf hair coat, which at over $20,000 is already out of stock. (Maybe it’s true that the luxury market is making a comeback.)

For the rest of us, though, no worries: there are many more financially feasible ways of seeing spots this season. As with camel, one of the most obvious is with outerwear. Many of us may initially fear this option as too bold a statement. But take a look at how effectively these designers have envisioned it.

One of my favorite designers, Phillip Lim, created this leopard print fur coat for his 3.1 line. While still a splurge item, it’s a mere fraction of the Balmain and is an elegant, timeless design that will look as good in two decades as it does today. Leopard may be the hot pattern this season, but it still qualifies as classic. Years from now, you or you daughter will be happy to pull this coat out of the closet again. 

Tory Burch’s slightly retro, leopard-print rabbit jacket is a fun luxe version that would look fabulous over your favorite little black dress.
And Dries Van Noten’s rabbit fur gilet was so popular, it sold out in no time.

Adrienne Landau’s leopard printed rabbit vest, at a reasonable $350, would look fabulous over a thick turtleneck on a chilly day.
For those of us who are non-fur buyers, Kate Spade’s adorable Galleria Lynda Fur Chubbie offers the same look in velvety faux fur. The cropped length and ¾-length sleeves ensure that it will look equally chic over a dress, as shown here, or over straight black slacks for that more casual Audrey-inspired look.
But my favorite leopard outerwear piece is this fabulous velvet coat from Talbots. At $209.25, it can’t be beat. Talbots has made a huge push to reinvent itself, and now boasts many truly stylish pieces.
If you prefer to wear your spots closer to the skin, dresses are a great option. From high to low price points, there are many choices. This subtly shaded Lanvin example is so elegant and flattering with its hint of ruching. And with the new Lanvin collection for H&M, I’m sure there will be leopard choices at throwaway price points.
This Moschino Cheap and Chic option hits the spots in a black and gray palette, for a more monochromatic effect.
Leopard is never out of favor at either Dolce and Gabbana  left) or Roberto Cavalli (right), both of whom frequently incorporate it into their collections.
And again from Talbots, at a very reasonable $179, is this chic and simple dress. Very “Mad Men,” don’t you think?
I’m confident that all of us own at least one black skirt or pair of pants, which would pair well with either of these tops. The more tailored St. John (below left) would even work beautifully with a black suit; the blousier version by Nanette Lepore (below right) would be lovely with wide-leg velvet or silk pants for an at-home holiday party.

And of course, the easiest way to add zip to a wardrobe is always accessories. Lucky for us, leopard abounds in this category. Take a look at the shoe and boot offerings below. As always, there’s a range of styles this season, from the very fashion-forward designs of Christian Louboutin (on the left) and Giuseppe Zanotti (right) . . .
. . . to the more elegant choices from, again Louboutin (below left) and Jimmy Choo (below right). Just add either of these to an all black, camel, or gray outfit and voilà! Instant chic. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Here are some similar options that won’t give you sticker shock. The lovely Ann Taylor pump on the left is a great buy at $198. And while the charming Kate Spade Chariot slingback is not quite such a bargain, it’s a relatively mild splurge at $398.
And everyone’s favorite flat, the Tory Burch Reva, is available this season in, yes, you guessed it: leopard.
I could have written this entire article on leopard bags alone. From Valentino and Gucci . . .
. . . to Celine and Prada . . .

. . . almost every collection this season offered a leopard bag. And for those of us who don’t want to blow our entire clothing budget on one, I’m happy to report that other lines also have bags in this category as well. Either Coach at $298 (below left) or Talbots at $179 (below right) would be good alternatives.

And how adorable is this Santi clutch at $133! I’m considering this myself as a holiday clutch to wear with all my dressy black outfits.
And for those who want to get in on the action in a subtle way, how about a scarf or pair of gloves? This Adrienne Landau fur option would be very cozy at $200.

And this chic gauzy version from Ann Taylor is currently on sale for $58.
I’m in love with these elegant Portolano gloves. They’re a bit of a splurge at $395 but perhaps a little note to Santa might do the trick.
With all the ladylike fashions this season, leopard belts are a perfect accessory. Wrap the Ann Taylor version (directly below) at $48 or the J. Crew  (second below) at $39.50 around a classic sheath and you will look totally on-trend with practically no dent in your wallet.

So whether you want to make a major statement or give a passing nod, there are great options at every price point for a walk on the wild size this fashion season.

(To see even more photos of fashion- in-leopard, check out the photo album on WVFC’s Facebook page.)

Nanette Lepore, Fern Mallis, Samanta Cortes Lead Fight to Save New York’s Garment District

samcSome WVFC readers might remember a Nanette Lepore fashion catwalk we embedded last year for one of our Pat Allen’s posts; the very last dress in it, after all the signature Lepore pieces, was a T-shirt saying simply: SAVE THE GARMENT CENTER. It passed by so quickly, you might not have had time to ask: Save what?

fernThat Lepore T-shirt was in support of a grassroots campaign by entrepeneurs in New York City’s Garment District, a half-mile-square stretch of Lower Midtown that once held garment factories as well as Seventh Avenue design showrooms. And today, Lepore and the Council of Fashion Designers brought that campaign a step forward, with a rally that also featured Fern Mallis (left), executive director of 7 on Sixth, which produces Fashion Week.

As city planners tout a new proposal to consolidate the Garment District zoning rules, they’re now getting pushback from Lepore’s CFDA and Save The Garment Center, founded two years ago by local apparel-industry business owners such as Samanta Cortes (right), of Fashion Design Concepts, Inc. Cortes and 20 to 30 other providers founded Save the Garment Center because booming real estate values had already shrunk the size of the District, whose zoning protects the area from encroachment by retail and residential development.

Cortes, who started her business in 2000 with “two sewing machines and Lily, my bookkeeper,” and now grosses over $500,000 a year serving high-end and younger designers with patternmaking, embroidery and handworked details, worked with the other SGC members to tell their side of the story. They pointed to recent studies show that while mass production has mostly moved overseas, the number of local shops like Cortes’ — patternmaking, samples, trim, accessories — has actually grown. They said that the city should treat the district like the Yankees: as an essential part of the city that deserves all the support possible.

Now, with thousands of designer, entrepreneurs, factory workers and educational institutions among its members, Save the Garment Center hopes that vision can counter the demands of those who want to turn the Garment District into another glamorous boutique destination.

ps logoWVFC contributing editor Elizabeth Willse was at today’s rally with, a Web site focused on the District’s unique convergence of artists and skilled local providers. Some highlights of their report:



Stan Herman, former president of CFDA, and Fern Malice, Senior VP of IMG Fashion

A crowd gathered in Manhattan at 39th Street and Seventh Avenue. “It’s so nice to see real people on these streets for what they believe in, and not just clicking a protest box on the computer,” said Fern Mallis, senior vice president of IMG Fashion. What Ms. Mallis termed “a good old-fashioned rally” featured speakers such as factory owners, union representatives, designer Nanette Lepore and mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson.

The densely packed crowd, including students and industry professionals like Paul Cavazza, owner of Create-A-Marker, waved signs reading “It’s Sew N.Y.” and “Save the Fashion District.”

“What do we want to do?” artist Robert Savage, Nanette Lepore’s husband, exhorted the crowd.

“Save the garment center!” they shouted, waving their signs.


Stan Herman, former president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), evoked the garment industry’s past, when a piece of clothing could be made, start to finish, in one afternoon. He celebrated designers like Anna Sui and Nanette Lepore, who are committed to keeping local business a part of their design. “Protecting and modernizing zoning is the key,” he said. “It’s time to take pride in ‘Made In New York!’”

“The world is watching to see what New York is wearing,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “Everybody needs to work together to save the industry and create jobs.” He called stricter zoning laws “an economic engine, to bring creativity here and preserve New York’s history.

“Vote and organize,” he implored the crowd, “as if your life depended on it.”

No matter how bad the economy is, said almost every speaker, “everybody wears clothes!” The rally was a call to action,to spur government to pass zoning laws that would preserve and develop fashion industry space in the city, which is vital for the economy.

For the rest, including Lepore’s passionate statement about the future of the District, click here.