Is there a time and place for men to wear leopard print? I have always thought so – and that time and place is if you are Richey Edwards in the Manic Street Preachers circa 1993. Outside of that context, leopard print is intimidating. It is a statement of the kind most men get self-conscious about. Yes, it looks great on Keith Richards, but it also looks faintly ridiculous when you are mooching around the tea point at the Guardian.
There were, inevitably, some funny looks when I wore it for a day at work. But was that the print? Or because I was wearing a blousey number with half my chest on show in the middle of winter? It’s hard to say. But after half an hour, I started to relax into it. And then I noticed all the women in the office effortlessly wearing their animal-print skirts, scarves and dresses. Surely us guys should get to enjoy it, too, without freaking out?
I decide that I would definitely give leopard print another go. I could imagine wearing it as a coat lining, or on a slightly more suitably tailored shirt … maybe even on a luxurious sweater. It might be a little while before I treat my colleagues to a second look, though. Tim Jonze
The menswear expert: “You will need to mentally prepare yourself …”
There was a moment in January, about halfway through the Versace menswear show, when a model emerged in a larger-than-life leopard-print coat complete with a coordinating hairdo. Yes, that’s right. Leopard hair. Later, on her Instagram feed, Donatella Versace posted a shot of herself and said model with the caption “the hair-coat match was everything”.
Despite many of the recent autumn shows being tales of sedate elegance where suits were front and centre, animal patterns, in particular leopard, offered a necessary bite. Raf Simons showed an almost floor-length coat of leopard in a ballroom in Paris. At Marni, leopard appeared on loosely shaped trousers as coats, trims, hats and shirt hems peeked out from beneath knitted layers. Hedi Slimane’s debut men’s collection for Celine also included a leopard coat, while a selection of footwear featured this splashy pattern.
As someone who has never entertained leopard, and pretty much lives in jeans, it threw me.
Of course, the idea of men wearing leopard print is not unheard of. But, like many things in men’s fashion that deviate from the conservative, it still has the potential to raise eyebrows. Yes, we have all seen Rod Stewart, Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry working leopard print, while images by Jesse Frohman of Kurt Cobain in a leopard coat, jeans, trapper hat and white sunglasses prove that leopard and denim are excellent bedfellows. But still …
Regardless of what you think, it’s happening. At Asos, there are 143 items listed (you will need to mentally prepare yourself for the sight of leopard briefs). Zara’s classic leopard shirt would work over a white T-shirt or under a grey V-neck knit, untucked, a tad grungy. Or perhaps a muted leopard Our Legacy cardigan, thrown over a denim shirt, is another easy way in. See also All Saints, known for indie lead-singer tendencies, whose animal-print offerings include a simple leopard T-shirt.
I am definitely intrigued. And I definitely want to try that Simons coat on with some urgency. Whether that means I am sold remains to be seen. But if the likes of Timothée Chalamet and Michael B Jordan can wear designer harnesses on the red carpet, why not leopard print? Roll on Oscar night. Chalamet in Raf Simons leopard? Oh, go on then. Simon Chilvers
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