The Triumphant Return Of The Leopard-Print Coat

Artwork: Meg O'Donnell
After several seasons of snakeskin (faux, of course), zebra patterns and teddy textures, AW18 marks the triumphant return of the leopard-print coat. It kicked off with Victoria Beckham's last show on New York Fashion Week's schedule before her UK homecoming. While all the front row chatter should've been around her 10th anniversary and catwalk departure (she'll be showing via presentations from next season onwards), what captured fashion's finest – and thus our Instagram feeds – was instead the belted leopard-print trench coat she showcased.
Simply styled with a high-necked black blouse, work-appropriate trousers, and patent black shoes, it was a fresh and contemporary take on an enduring and iconic staple. “Everyone’s obsessed with this leopard-print coat,” she told Vogue after the show. “It was based on a Venetian upholstery fabric which was super heavy, woven in one of the oldest factories in Italy, and we reworked it as a chenille jacquard.” By steering clear of the faux texture with which the likes of Shrimps and Alexachung have spoiled us, and instead opting for this heavy, solid fabric, Beckham has brought the '60s signifier into 2018.
Photos: Getty Images
A flurry of further appearances throughout this season only confirms that whichever cut, colour or fabric you choose, a leopard-print coat will be your outerwear of choice next winter. Paul Surridge – the British designer at the helm of Roberto Cavalli, now on his second season for the brand – presented a sexed-up Basic Instinct-inspired collection in Milan, with leopard-print appearing via cropped biker jackets in silver hues on women and knee-skimming aubergine coats on men.
Tom Ford's electric take was another show to light up Instagram, where he spliced puffer-faux fur hybrids in fuchsias, tangerines and Byzantine blues. Leopard spots of varying sizes were combined on power-shouldered coats, while a neon red bomber with exaggerated sleeves and a leather collar cemented the return of the '80s this season. Max Mara, too, offered up plenty of the print, with a smoky-eyed Gigi Hadid strutting down the catwalk in head-to-toe leopard.
Photos: Getty Images
An enduring classic, the leopard-print coat has made its way through cultural history and somehow still maintains its relevance. Whether seen on Anne Bancroft's Mrs Robinson in 1967's The Graduate, with her marvellously coiffed hair under a matching pillbox hat, or Barbra Streisand in her black-trimmed coat in '68's Funny Girl, we're constantly looking back to the '60s for inspiration. In the '00s, Kate Moss revived the staple with her rolled-out-of-bed blonde tresses and penchant for a black skinny jean, while over the past decade, Alexa Chung has had us head over heels once again, donning many an iteration of the leopard coat.
And now it's back on the streets of fashion month, mirroring its victorious return to the catwalks. Julia Restoin Roitfeld wore a car coat by House of Fluff – a newly established faux fur brand – at London Fashion Week earlier this month, while Caroline Issa wore a longer length monochrome piece in New York. Anna Dello Russo paired hers – in one of the more understated outfits we've seen from the Vogue Japan editor – with leather sock boots and opaque tights in Milan.
Photos: Getty Images
We're currently smitten with Shrimps' Papa Puss coat, with its removable lemon faux fur collar, and H&M's collarless round-necked number, which we'll be styling over a spring-bright rollneck and kick-flare jeans. If you love the print but textures aren't your thing, go streamlined with Boden's Imelda coat, which will see you through to warmer climes, too.
While this autumn and winter have zoned in on the vinyl trench, teddy textured coats, and ubiquitous puffer jacket, we're more than willing to bet that you'll be investing in a leopard-print coat next year – or, in fact, digging up the one you put in storage all those years ago.

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