Everyone’s childhood is a little bit strange or special to an outsider, whether it be urban, rural, peripatetic or isolated. But the story of Tippi Degré is a tangle of Doctor Doolittle and The Jungle Book, sprinkled with the surreal magic of The Lion King. The stuff of novels and dreams, it is not surprising that this picture of Tippi with her leopard J&B, Loved by Another Man editor Ben Cobb, has captured the imagination of the AnOther Lovers and won this week’s vote.
Born in 1990 in Windhoek, Namibia – the daughter of two French wildlife photographers – Tippi’s childhood was spent exploring the African bush, with the animals she met there becoming her family and friends. Named after the famous Hitchcock blonde, her life could not have been more different to the urban anxiety habitually experienced by her cinematic namesake. Abu, a 28-year-old African elephant, was her ‘brother’, J&B was her best friend, and her preferred mode of transport was aboard Linda the ostrich. For her mother, Sylvie Robert, what might have been a terrifying experience – seeing one’s child potentially at the mercy of creatures ranging from lions and crocodiles to giant bullfrogs and snakes – was in fact a natural joy. “She was in the mindset of these animals,” remembers Sylvie Robert, “she believed the animals were her size and her friends. She was using her imagination to live in these different conditions.”
"Abu, a 28-year-old African elephant, was her ‘brother’, J&B was her best friend, and her preferred mode of transport was aboard Linda the ostrich."
Inspired by the African sunshine, and the plethora of leopard print, here we speak to Cobb about his safari style, a love of Marrakech and what he's looking forward to about the forthcoming menswear shows, alongside more images of Tippi with her childhood companions.
Why did you Love this picture of Tippi Degré?
Her story is such an inspiring one. It's about the power of innocence. She had no fear of the wild animals around her, she was just curious, and somehow they picked up on this and trusted her. It makes you dream of a world where everyone treats wild animals with the same respect and love. There are some great films of her on YouTube.
What is your ideal safari outfit?
A vintage YSL safari suit, naturally.
Which wild animals would you like to have grown up with?
Chimpanzees and orangutans. In fact, any primate apart from bonobos.
Have you visited Africa? If so, where is your favourite place to go and why?
I love Morocco and never tire of Marrakech's mix of African tradition and European chic. I first went when I was about 13 and have returned most years ever since. My next visit is in August for a friend's wedding.
Who are your heroes?
Bit obsessed with Dr Lawrence Blair at the moment. He's an English anthropologist living in Indonesia. He's a bit of a roguish gent and wears an animal print eyepatch and is fond of a silk headscarf. Think Keith Richards meets Sir David Attenborough.
What are you looking forward to at the mens shows?
In keeping with the theme of this interview, I'm just sad I won't be at Pitti to meet Sir Roger Moore, who is making an appearance this season at a cocktail event.
What was the last thing you bought?
Silk robes and a horn-carved skeleton in Ubud, Bali.
Text by Tish Wrigley