In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The Elephant in the Room

Malcolm Starr for Rizkallah elephant and rider wool felt skirt

No, not that one (whichever one you are thinking about, and yes, there are many right now).  I’m actually referring to elephant themed fashion items. And naturally, not those that are garden variety and run of the mill, but elegantly sophisticated and chic. Because regardless of the fact that the CFDA created the 2018 Fashion Influencer Award for Kim Kardashian, a woman who is the epitome of common, vulgar and tasteless, looking at recent images from the couture shows in Paris, we are thankfully at a moment which is celebrating elegance and chic. Well, I guess I got that off my chest lol!

In any event, in Hinduism, elephants are sacred and considered to be the representation of the living incarnation of Ganesh, the elephant-headed deity. In India, they are worshipped, seen as a symbol of strength and good luck and symbolize mental strength, earthiness, and responsibility. It’s no wonder that through the years, this highly recognizable and beloved mammal has been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture, and has also served as inspiration for fashion designers. One of the best pieces I’ve ever come across is the Rizkallah for Malcolm Starr felted wool maxi skirt featuring an umbrella-carrying man astride a large elephant, part of a circus-themed collection from the 1970’s.  It’s a collectors’ item and a true work of art and though it is rare, it is available from time to time. (I actually bought one from a vintage dealer years ago).

Most recently, elephants have struck the fancy of Jonathan Anderson, the creative director for Loewe since 2012. Drawing inspiration from his time spent in Ibiza as a child, he has been instrumental in the brands’ reinvention. His highly coveted, playful collection of elephant-shaped bags, bag charms, and coin purses is illustrative of his style, which is described as “forward and free” and proof of his desire to combine the work of craftsmanship with a fun design. Highlights from the collection:

Click images for full-size views:

Loewe silver leather mini elephant bag, $1290. More info/purchase

Loewe mini elephant bag in rainbow-colored leather, $1314. More info/purchase

Loewe python elephant key ring, $750. More info/purchase

Shoe brand Dorateymur, founded in 2012 by Turkish designer Dora Teymur, flawlessly combines a vintage inspired aesthetic with a smooth and sculptural silhouette that is completely modern. I love the charm and whimsy of a sculpted elephant heel and the way it unexpectedly adds a surprise twist to her classic, timeless footwear. Among my favorites:

Dorateymur silver leather pumps with an elephant shaped heel, $465. More info/purchase

Dorateymur black suede pumps with an elephant shaped heel, $320. More info/purchase

Dorateymur pink leather backless pumps with an elephant shaped heel, $435. More info/purchase

Dorateymur red leather ankle boots with an elephant shaped heel, $580. More info/purchase

In addition to leather accessories, there are also noteworthy pins and earrings which pay homage to the ‘gentle giant’.Yvonne Leon 18-karat gold and diamond elephant shaped earrings, $785. More info/purchase

Philippe Ferrandis Magic Circus Elephant resin brooch with Swarovski crystals and glass pearl, $475. More info/purchase

Vintage Kenneth Jay Lane elephant brooch decorated with multi-colored stones, $210. More info/purchase

Last but not least is Arthur Elgort’s photograph, ‘Keira Knightley with Elephant’. This iconic photograph showing actress Keira Knightley bottle-feeding a baby elephant with a Louis Vuitton-style saddle pad in the green woods, wearing a dress and boots is a wonderful combination of nature, animal, and celebrity photography. Price upon request.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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