The elusive leopard print jacket

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Every year, at this time of year, I return to the search for the perfect (and perfectly elusive) leopard print jacket. Why do I never quite manage to find what I’m looking for?  Too slow to recognise it? Too choosy?  Certainly I have strong ideas about what I like and don’t like: I’m definitely avoiding anything in PVC or too vintage-looking and then the price vs quality balance is tricky too.

The other problem is that I remain haunted by the ones that got away over the years. There was a “Jackie O” style leather-trimmed, vintage one on a stall at Greenwich market. There was a chubby, Isabel Marant version in a Provence boutique. There was last year’s gorgeous Miu Miu 60s style one that was just too expensive to justify.

So what do I want? I’m looking for an abbreviated, 60s beatnik style, not too deep and shaggy or all-enveloping.   I have to consider that at my height, just shy of 1.7m, I have to keep prints and volume in perspective.  I once came across a wonderful Alexander McQueen leopard print cape but just didn’t have the height to carry it off (or at that point, the cash either).  Which reminds me of another one of those items that “got away”: an incredible McQueen python suit whose price, even reduced in the sale, frightened me too much to buy it.  It was quintessential McQueen – part Matrix, part Gothic, with a strong dose of film noir – I pine for it to this day.

So I started searching.  Prada and Celine have both produced fairly shaggy versions – too much volume there for me.  Net-a-Porter yielded a Malene Birger dressing-gown style coat as a mid-market option (£395).  Matches had something similar from Maxmara for £1,118 as well as an even pricier version in their sale from Saint Laurent.  A google search yielded a perplexing range, more bad and ugly than good.

Then a revelation via twitter: Topshop is asking us all to nominate our favourites from their back catalogue to be re-issued.  So I’m hoping that the #BRINGTHATBACK campaign will deliver the perfect leopard print, as judged by the collective wisdom of Topshop’s customers.  If you have experienced a perfect Topshop leopard print, I beg you to vote to re-issue it so that, perhaps, I can finally end my search.

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