You must have seen them by now: furry faces, peeping out from the forests of fall 2012 fashion. They’re in shop windows, emblazoned across bags, roaring out of t-shirts or innocently snuggled into the fronts of autumn knits. Everywhere you look, animal prints have taken over.

And yet this is not animal prints as we usually think of them, not leopard prints or bold zebra stripes, not patterns. These are animal faces, animal motifs. The internet’s obsession with everything cute and furry turned to high fashion.

Click the thumbnails for full pictures
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small
All creatures great and small

Animal motifs: woodland creatures

Givenchy’s snarling jungle animals may have been the mascot of the previous fall, but this time around it was Burberry Prorsum who propelled animal motifs into the spotlight. And Burberry’s were as cute as Givenchy’s were fierce. The mood for autumn / winter 2012 takes root in all things folksy: if you can imagine handicrafts and cosy forest cabins, then these woodland creatures are the ones populating our fall world. Owls, hounds and foxes above all epitomise the trend as if they’ve just stepped straight out of an English children’s storybook.

fox print clothing
Fox prints by Aubin & Wills, Burberry Brit, and Simeon Farrar at Asos.

owl print clothing
Owl knit by Burberry Prorsum, owl beanie at Asos.com, embelished suede clutch by Burberry Prorsum, owl appliquéd varsity jacket by Anna Sui.

Other types of animal motifs

Beyond the magic of the folksy forest, other designers played with animal prints in different themes. Kenzo’s roaring tiger print was one of the most memorable. David Koma’s greyhounds had an Art Deco slickness, and Peter Som’s cat prints almost looked abstract until you got up close.

tiger print for spring
Tiger print at Kenzo, F/W ’12

The future of the trend

Before you invest in that cosy animal-motif sweater, you might wonder: where is the trend headed? The key thing to note is that this is one of those runway trends easily – and basically instantly – adopted by the high street. And that means saturation. So don’t expect to be the only one rocking a cute owl t-shirt.

The key then is to get creative, or invest in something truly classic (Burberry Prorsum’s animal motif leather goods and jewellery, for example, have a certain timelessness). That said, these woodland motifs have been a huge trend for much longer on networks like Etsy where cute, crafty clothes and accessories will always reign. So if you can’t resist a bushy-tailed fox when you see one, trend or not, that’s all the reason you need to find a piece you truly love and snap it up.

As for where we’ll be come spring 2013 – well, we’ve already seen new animal motifs creeping onto the horizon for the warmer months. Manish Aurora carried the jungle tiger prints into spring, as did Kenzo; Issa brought exotic birds to the mix; and butterflies flitted across several collections from Mary Katrantzou to Etro.

tiger print for spring
Tiger face at Manish Arora, S/S ’13

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