When lensman Franco Rubartelli photographed his then girlfriend Veruschka in a lace-up Yves Saint Laurent safari jacket in 1968, who knew it would be the shot heard (or rather, seen) around the world? Almost four decades later, the image is still a classic—the flaxen-haired model displaying a rifle, hat and seductive stance—and her rugged-chic look, simply iconic. For the resort collections, designers mined that style yet again, with everyone from Thakoon Panichgul to Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough working the Blixen-babe motif. “There’s fascinating magic in the African atmosphere,” say Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana in a joint e-mail, referring to its staying power.
Of course, expeditions nowadays probably skew more concrete jungle than wild Kenyan terrain, and designers, thankfully, have kept that in mind. Thus, Dolce & Gabbana, no strangers to the theme, served it up with a soupçon of city sportif—easy tank tops, nylon parkas and cuffed shorts, all chicly outfitted with multiple cargo pockets. Stefano Pilati, for his part, turned the Saint Laurent house classic into a pretty cinched dress, swapping the lace-ups for a wide corselet belt, while Michael Kors channeled a jetset Veruschka-gone-to-Marrakesh. (His girl is trading in that gun for a pair of shades and a cocktail.) And then there’s Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, who, though inspired by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, managed to keep his safari references to a clean minimum. Instead, he chose to focus on the element of contrast in her various ensembles. “Her early 1900s wardrobe consisted of masculine linen jackets and trousers mixed with feminine blouses and skirts,” Tisci notes. “It brought together a great balance between the masculine and feminine.” The sole overt nod to his muse in his lineup: an oversize elephant graphic on a cotton T-shirt.
But for those who want to let loose with their inner Saharienne, there are still plenty of wild-safari riffs to be had. Cases in point: Dior’s one-shouldered leopard-print frock and Salvatore Ferragamo’s feathery handbag. Sigerson Morrison’s Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison even created an ikat print in leather—actually two-tone woven strips—on sandals and shoes for a decidedly tribal feel. And the trend isn’t going to let up, if the early runway collections for spring are any indication. There will be dizzying animal spots and stripes galore come 2008, not to mention gaming jackets in every cut and style. The timing couldn’t be more perfect—the style is set to hit the big screen next summer with the much anticipated release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, starring Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett. And if all that’s not enough, the more adventurous can also take the Veruschka vibe home—with your very own designer antler candelabra from Ralph Lauren.
Clockwise from top: Erich Ginder’s cast resin wall antlers; Ralph Lauren Home’s brass and stag antler candelabra; Yves Saint Laurent’s straw, leather and tin necklace; Dolce & Gabbana’s polyester and silk jacket; Dior’s chiffon dress; Erich Ginder’s cast resin, brass, cherry veneer and marbled paper lamp; Bottega Veneta’s leather and gunmetal folding camp bed; Jimmy Choo’s printed ponyskin handbag; Asprey’s alligator bar trunk; Leica’s aluminum and rubber binoculars; Target’s rubber Wellies; Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed canvas wardrobe trunk; Jimmy Choo’s printed ponyskin and snakeskin shoe; Salvatore Ferragamo’s pheasant feather and tortoiseshell handbag; Jane Bolinger’s zebra hair clutch. Fashion Assistants: Jennifer Flynn and Brian O’Connor. Ralph Lauren Home candelabra, 888.475.7674; Erich Ginder antlers and lamp, erichginder.com; Bottega Veneta camp bed, bottegaveneta.com; Asprey trunk at Asprey, New York; Leica Binoculars, 800.222.0118; Louis Vuitton trunk, 866.VUITTON.