Slowly and Steadily, Snails Have Overtaken the Runway – US 247 News


In September, at Prada’s spring 2024 women’s show, models walked between translucent curtains of pink slime that dripped from the ceiling and pooled on the floor. The brand referred to them as “fluid interruptions,” a concept that was echoed in the collection’s flowing organza dresses and fringed skirts. Above all, though, it evoked the secretions of a snail, an animal that has recently been crawling into the realms of design and fashion.

In an accelerated age, it makes sense that we’d revere a creature that moves through the world slowly and deliberately. “The snail reminds me that it’s fine to take time,” says the Bangkok-based artist and creative director Eric Tobua, 40, who’s made the gastropod a recurring motif in his work for fashion clients, sometimes incorporating his own albino giant African land snail, Lolita, into photo shoots. In 2019, he released a wearable snail-shaped art piece made from recycled plastic bottles and bags. Two years ago, the jewelry designer Brent Neale Winston, 43, created a gold signet ring adorned with a snail and the words “Keep Trucking,” informed by a Grateful Dead song. Snail pendants followed, their shells sprinkled with diamonds or sapphires.

At least 1,100 species of land snails are known to be endangered, so it’s only natural that the fashion companies celebrating snails in their designs are usually those that limit waste or rely upon recycled materials: The British label Story Mfg. sells crocheted, snail-encircled hats made with organic cotton yarn and plant-based dyes. Online Ceramics, the company known for its small runs of psychedelic T-shirts, collaborated with the North Face to produce a recycled nylon rain jacket printed with a smiling snail.

Slugs — snails whose shells have been internalized or lost over the course of their evolution — are similarly oozing into creative circles: The New York-based ceramist Marc Armitano Domingo, 27, makes gold-rimmed porcelain plates with three-dimensional versions trailing iridescent lines of slime. For her solo show at New York’s Deli gallery in September, the London artist Anousha Payne, 32, arranged maroon ceramic mollusks in a spiral on one wall.

Today’s interest in snails has long precedent in art. Doodles of knights jousting with the creatures are common in the margins of medieval books. Salvador Dalí sculpted them; Joan Miró painted them; Henri Matisse collaged them. But the recent fascination dates to the pandemic, when some city dwellers who weren’t ready to commit to dogs decided to instead adopt snails — who, like the rest of us, were trapped inside their own homes. In 2020, the artist duo Aleia Murawski, 34, and Sam Copeland, 37, released a book, “Snail World: Life in the Slimelight,” showing their “cast of eight adult snails” in an array of everyday and fantastical settings. Recently, their pets have starred in ads for Burberry (waiting for the subway with a tiny pink handbag) and DoorDash (picking up a food delivery).

But the patron saint of snail-loving artists is from a few decades ago. The writer Patricia Highsmith reportedly nurtured 300 gastropods in her English garden. In 1947, she published a short story, “The Snail-Watcher,” about a financial broker who becomes entranced with them, which in turn inspires a “new zest for life” that improves his performance at work. Spoiler alert: It ends badly. Still, as Highsmith once said of the creatures themselves, “They give me a sort of tranquillity.”