Sharmadean Reid says that she adores animal print so much she’d ‘even wear it to a funeral’. The owner of the WAH nail salon in east London, as well as a style blogger and trend consultant, she grew up in Wolverhampton and would spend hours as a girl in the library hunting down books on fashion. ‘I devoured every single book there was,’ she says. One label in particular enthralled her: Dolce & Gabbana. ‘Not only do they “own” the leopard print’, she says, ‘they also champion a fierce, powerful woman, someone to aspire to and be proud of – like the women in my own family.’
Leopard print has moved on since Bet Lynch’s day. ‘It’s a classic now,’ says Reid. ‘I don’t ever see leopard as a trend. It’s always relevant and stylish.’ Her look is inspired by street style, sportswear, Courtney Love and the babydoll dresses and stompy Doc Martens of 1990s riot-girl bands. Leopard print, in her eyes, can work with all these styles and for every occasion.
However, not all animal print is created equal. Whether it’s designer or high street, Reid doesn’t care; what matters is that the print is a realistic representation of the pelt in natural colours. ‘It has to be perfect for me to want it. Even if it’s a great brand like Marc Jacobs, if the print’s not authentic I won’t buy it.’ Her hoard, which takes in everything from bags to cardigans, comprises more than 50 pieces, which she admits to having cost ‘probably a few thousand pounds’.