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Critter Chic: These Wild Animals Dress Like People

A photographer documents the transformative power of fashion in his portraits of animals wearing human clothes.

  • <p>Who knew your average monkey or rooster could benefit so much from a sartorial upgrade?</p>
  • <p>Spanish photographer Miguel Vallinas’s "Second Skin" series imagines a vast menagerie of beastly aesthetes.</p>
  • <p>Each of the 50-plus animals in the photographic essay is smartly outfitted in the style of a fashionable human.</p>
  • <p>Part of the treat is how perfectly the clothes are paired with the animals.</p>
  • <p>So where and how did Vallinas get all these wild things to cooperate?</p>
  • <p>How’d they handle makeup changes and intrusive lights?</p>
  • <p>Vallinas used stuffed subjects, sourced from museums and private taxidermy collections.</p>
  • <p>By working with taxidermy-chic subjects, he was able to achieve a likeness and believability that he wouldn’t have been able to get using post-production image software like Photoshop.</p>
  • <p>The goal, Vallinas says, was to dress the animals in a manner as seamless and natural as possible.</p>
  • <p>He could pose and light the preserved animals precisely as he saw fit.</p>
  • <p>The results are consistent throughout the series, even though the characters and the clothing vary greatly from portrait to portrait.</p>
  • <p>If he had resorted to digital wizardry, Vallinas would have ended up with, as he puts it, just "people with animal heads."</p>
  • <p>Vallinas’s attention to detail really gives each animal its own quirky persona.</p>
  • <p>Some are serious. Other animals wear a long face and even appear depressed (despite their fabulous style).</p>
  • <p>Some are too cool for school, while others are gentle and wear understanding expressions.</p>
  • <p>And then you have the broey antelope. You really can’t avoid this guy.</p>
  • 01 /16 | Second Skin

    Who knew your average monkey or rooster could benefit so much from a sartorial upgrade?

  • 02 /16

    Spanish photographer Miguel Vallinas’s "Second Skin" series imagines a vast menagerie of beastly aesthetes.

  • 03 /16

    Each of the 50-plus animals in the photographic essay is smartly outfitted in the style of a fashionable human.

  • 04 /16

    Part of the treat is how perfectly the clothes are paired with the animals.

  • 05 /16

    So where and how did Vallinas get all these wild things to cooperate?

  • 06 /16

    How’d they handle makeup changes and intrusive lights?

  • 07 /16

    Vallinas used stuffed subjects, sourced from museums and private taxidermy collections.

  • 08 /16

    By working with taxidermy-chic subjects, he was able to achieve a likeness and believability that he wouldn’t have been able to get using post-production image software like Photoshop.

  • 09 /16

    The goal, Vallinas says, was to dress the animals in a manner as seamless and natural as possible.

  • 10 /16

    He could pose and light the preserved animals precisely as he saw fit.

  • 11 /16

    The results are consistent throughout the series, even though the characters and the clothing vary greatly from portrait to portrait.

  • 12 /16

    If he had resorted to digital wizardry, Vallinas would have ended up with, as he puts it, just "people with animal heads."

  • 13 /16

    Vallinas’s attention to detail really gives each animal its own quirky persona.

  • 14 /16

    Some are serious. Other animals wear a long face and even appear depressed (despite their fabulous style).

  • 15 /16

    Some are too cool for school, while others are gentle and wear understanding expressions.

  • 16 /16

    And then you have the broey antelope. You really can’t avoid this guy.

It wasn’t especially difficult to fall for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. The puppetry, the vintage pedigree, the fetishistic attention to detail, the references to French New Wave film, and, I suppose, the very human story at the center of it loaded it with winning charm. But the foxy little suits and other animal marionette wardrobe work could have clinched it alone.

Similarly irresistible are the creatures of style in Spanish photographer Miguel Vallinas’s portraits of animal aesthetes. More than 50 sexy beasts are decked out in sometimes incongruous, sometimes strangely apt fashion looks. A discerning deer sports knee-high boots and a smart grise top, and a dour dog dons a long raincoat. A genteel ram sports a blazer and is accessorized with a pipe. A peacock favors a brilliant blue petticoat that rivals its own plumage.

Madrid-based Vallinas’s ongoing "Second Skin" project is, he says, his attempt to conjure "the animals in us all." The series is actually a followup to his "Skins," a photographic essay in which he assumes the identities of various industrial and white-collar workers by clothing himself in the attendant garb. The similarity of the two projects, he tells Co.Design, is in the fact that they both illustrate how mercurial people can be and how easily true nature can be masked under a thin sartorial skin.

"The goal was to believably portray the animals dressed as people, and not people with animal heads," Vallinas explains. All of his animals were sourced from museums or private taxidermy collections. Of course, dead and stuffed subjects meant that the photographer could maintain an absolutely consistent lighting and feel throughout the series.

The creatures are rendered with accurate anthropomorphic physiology, at the same time keeping the unique and quiet dignity of each animal. That preoccupation distinguishes Vallinas’s portraiture from other human-animal work, such as that of William Wegman.

It’s an entrancing effect—the fantastic Mr. and Ms. everything sitting in style for Vallinas. You’ll even spot a fox in the mix, a prim critter wearing a Wes Andersonian preppy-smart stripey sweater and textured skirt. Her would-be hands are velveted in driving gloves, so convincingly you could see her in a movie, driving that car.

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