Ever since Eve made her arrangements with the serpent, sleek and sinuous snake patterns have been winding their way in and out of women's wardrobes.
This spring, reptilian prints and weaves are the faux favorites of many designers -- the sleek warm-weather alternative to winter's fuzzy fakes.
Nature dressed snakes in camouflage design, the better to blend in with the grasses. Some designer cobras and pythons, however, shout to be noticed.
Roberto Cavalli has beige and earthy snake colors in clingy second-skin dresses and jumpsuits for those occasions when a temptress wants to go gala. His prints in leather hot pants, shirts and jackets are tailored to the club-crawling crowd.
Going nature one better are Cynthia Rowley's sequin snakes in red or turquoise slip dresses, cigarette pants and dinner jackets. Even Todd Oldham, who is known for inventing unusual pattern combinations, lifted snake right out of nature's design book and made it in everything from daytime suits to nighttime slither dresses. Snakeskin dressing lends itself particularly well to stretchy and shiny finishes that are also key to the season.
On a smaller scale and refined manner are the narrow reptile belts that wrap the waists of Calvin Klein's classic suits and dresses. That is probably the only way sensible women will ever cotton to snake -- in small bites.
"I bought a light gray snake group by Mephisto -- a little chemise and T-shirt with a gray belt to go with it," says Sally Jones of Jones & Jones in the Village of Cross Keys. "It mixes beautifully into a black group and makes basic dressing really sit up."
At Nordstrom, however, they like their snake showy. Fashion assistant Carmen Aseron says a black and white python evening slink by Riazee even has a spark of rhinestones. It also has a matching stole -- to wind around the shoulders or trail along the ground for a dramatic entrance.
Women should watch where they step, however. In the wrong place and wrong dose, snake design can be fashion poison.