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Going Wild With Reptiles

March 21, 2012
I have never been big on all things reptile. I am actually petrified at the mere thought of a slithering creature creeping from under a rock or a pair of cold-blooded eyes starring in the dark, quietly waiting for a prey to come by. But despite these somewhat primal fears, I am totally smitten with the textures and patterns of reptilian skins. And truth is, animalistic styling when done right adds a touch of sexy sophistication to any room or wardrobe. So without further ado here are some exotic skins that can definitely make a design statement.
First on my list is the amazingly ornate skin of Reticulated Pythons. Originally from South-East Asia, Pythons are among the largest snakes on Earth. Did you know by the way that these super-sized creatures were named after the Greek god Apollo who according to ancient mythology killed with his arrows a great serpent that was eating people and cattle in the ancient city of Delphi.
As for the word “reticulated” it actually refers to the exquisite snakeskin pattern, which features large blotches of color surrounded by thin lines in another color. Once the skins are harvested –I know it sounds strange but that’s actually the right word, they undergo a fairly complex tanning process, which transforms them into supple leather that can be used to handcraft all sorts of exquisite fashion accessories or to upholster furniture and other home accent pieces. Python is frighteningly beautiful and expensive just see for yourself.
Python print pants Python snake
Python Ipad and Python print tray Python bed in home of Elton John in LA
Python Flooring in Prada Paris Store
Images (clockwise from top right): Ball Python, Python skin in Louis Vuitton workshop, Room by Designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Prada Paris store, Snakeskin tray via Pinterest, Python leather Ipad case by Raymond Hau, Snakeskin pants via The Sartorialist.
Second on the list is the ever luxurious, three-dimensional looking Crocodile skin. Well shame on me but honestly, I can’t make a difference between a Croc leather hide, an Alligator or a Caiman one. All three species belong to the Crocodilia family and have been around for more than 65 million years. These scary looking reptiles were already here when dinosaurs were roaming around and they have remained remarkably unchanged since then.
Croc skins have always been prized for their incredible quality, and texture. Not only are they thick and durable but they also show some exquisite symmetrical scale patterns. Rolling an agate stone over the skin creates the smooth shiny sheen historically associated with the finest croc and alligator leather. The tighter the scale pattern, the higher the pressure utilized and… the steeper the price! Traditionally big in the luxury fashion world, Croc is venturing now into the interior design arena too. Take a look.
Crocodile and Crocodile skin Black crocodile leather jacket
Ottoman in white crocodile leather White crocodile handbag by Victoria Beckham
Blue crocodile console table
White crocodile wall covering by Osborne and Little
Images (clockwise from top right): Crocodile leather jacket via Flickr, Handbag by Victoria Beckham, Crocodile console table via Pinterest, White crocodile wallcovering by Osborne & Little, Crocodile ottoman via decorating-trends.com, Crocodile skin in Louis Vuitton workshop, Saltwater crocodile via Google.
Last but not least: the mysterious and distinctive smooth pebbled texture of Shagreen (also called Galuchat in French). So what exactly is Shagreen? Well it’s the skin of a stingray from the Indo-Pacific Ocean. So technically it’s a fish rather than a reptile. But the skin is actually covered with millions of tiny round enamel beads (spicula), which combine to form an intricate pattern on the back of the fish with a sort of eye in the center, and that is very reptile-looking if you ask me.
Because of that super dense bead structure, Shagreen is watertight and durable but also very hard. A lengthy and labor-intensive tanning process –including stretching, drying, scrapping and finally dying the skin is needed to prepare the leather for future use. So now you get a better sense of why this exquisite material is only used in the luxury business and mostly to manufacture small fashion accessories: bags, cases, cuffs and the likes. Shagreen was huge during the Art Deco era and is now making a comeback, so what do you think? You like?
Chanel pink shagreen bag Stingray from Indo-Pacific Ocean
Pink Shagreen Iphone case by Galerie Galuchat
Pink shagreen cuff with grey shagreen eyeglasses and black shagreen ring Gray Shagreen Console Table by Atelier Viollet
Beige shagreen wall covering with close-up detail
Images (clockwise from top right): Stingray via Google, Pink shagreen Iphone case by Galerie Galuchat, Grey shagreen console table by Atelier Viollet, Shagreen upholstered walls by Designer Nancy Boszhardt, Ring by Damian by Mischelle, Shagreen eyeglasses via Google, Pink shagreen cuff by Fabio Salini, Chanel pink shagreen purse.
This is probably my longest Post ever! It feels like it went on….forever, just like my Jury duty this week.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karine permalink
    March 23, 2012 9:13 pm

    Not a fan of skin animal clothes, decorations etc…

  2. Thomas Struan permalink
    March 28, 2012 11:04 am

    I don’t care for reptile skin – but I think animal skin is fantastic!!! I would challenge anyone to look in their closet and find not one thing made with wool, or leather (shoes especially). The way I look at it is that the animal is being sacrificed for meat anyway – so you might as well honour them by using their entire body efficiently and effectively.

    I did have an alligator wallet once, but it started falling apart and it looked strange. I think, though, that reptile skin has added a dimension to fashion that would not exist otherwise. And, there are a number of artificial reptile skin products on the market.

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