One thing that a lot of designers seem to have a very hard time doing is creating a bag that is both expensive-looking and covered in animal print. It’s not surprising since animal print is historically “tacky chic” at best, and at worst, just plain tacky. Getting past the initial “eww, is that zebra?” thought is a difficult sell for a lot of handbag customers in particular, since most people prefer their expensive bags to be neutral and timeless.
Somehow, though, the Roger Vivier Zebra Tote manages to look luxurious and chic in a traditional way, while still being boldly and obviously animal print. How did the designer pull it off? I have a theory, of course.
The folks at Vivier did two things very, very right with this bag: first, they kept the materials high-end. Most designers resort to non-leather materials when they want to make animal print because leather is difficult to dye in precise patterns. Choosing something like cotton canvas automatically downgrades the look, making the print look cheap by association. Instead of making that mistake, the designer used calfskin, giving the bag a richness that it would likely not have otherwise.
The second thing that the designer did correctly was not assume that simply using a pattern would be enough attention to detail. If the goal was to make something modern and minimalist, that would have been fine, but in this situation it probably wouldn’t cut it. Instead, the fine color variation in the dye makes the bag look well-crafted and beautifully wrought, increasing the style quotient exponentially. Vivier should teach classes in this sort of thing. Buy through Luisa Via Roma for $2451.