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Gucci, Givenchy, and Balenciaga Get in on the Snake Trend

Fall TrendsIt's Official: 2016 Is the Year of the Snake*

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(*Yes, technically it's Year of the Monkey. But fashion designers aren't hearing that right now.)

If your spirit animal is a serpent, 2016 is your year.

The legless reptiles have come to dominate fashion and culture in a way unseen since rabid dogs took over in 2011 (thanks there goes to Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci and his Rottweilers). Manchester United star Paul Pogba just got a multi-hued snake-themed haircut. The central motif at Khloe Kardashian's birthday party (at least the one documented for TV) was a snake. And after her sister Kim outed Taylor Swift as having heard and approved the lyrics for Kanye West's song "Famous," some fans left strings of snake emoji as comments on her Instagram posts to indicate that they didn't trust her. (There's even a Twitter account called @TrueSnakes with 40,000 followers that exposes and decries the mendacious. It also sells $15 t-shirts featuring snakes, if you're interested.)

But if you're looking for the source of this serpentine trend, look no further than Gucci's Alessandro Michele, who brought the snake up to eye level (and into the conversation) when he put them all over his spring 2016 collection, from the collars of men's polo shirts to the heels of women's sandals. (A gray sweatshirt with an embroidered black snake will cost you $1,190.) Other designers quickly followed suit: Tisci put snakes all over Givenchy's fall 2016 menswear, including an $875 sweater. Balenciaga is offering snake print scarves for $495 and t-shirts for $275, and True Religion will sell you a sweatshirt with intertwining cobras for about $150.

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Left, Givenchy's fall 2016 intarsia snake sweater. Right, Balenciaga's snake print t-shirt.

So why is every trend-focused person on the planet dressing like King Hiss all of a sudden? As with any new thing in fashion, the motivations for buying in are as numerous as the people spending the cash. Snakes hold different places of esteem across different cultures, so depending on where you are they can represent evil, fertility, rebirth, or healing.

And that makes them universally common as tattoos. You're just as likely to see snake-themed ink on a Japanese businessman as you are on a college student coming home from spring break. And perhaps that's the appeal of putting a snake on your wardrobe instead of on your body: It's not permanent. At the end of the day, you get to take all of that weighted symbolism the way snakes shed old skin, hang it back up in your closet, and move on.

Up next: 5 Things You Need to Know About the New Brioni

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