By Jessica Shaw
Updated November 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Something slithery this way comes: Python is on the verge of overtaking pony as the animal skin of the moment. The spring lines for Versace, Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu, Ungaro, Moschino, and Fendi are crawling with python jackets, pants, belts, and handbags.

Serpent style is also popular with shoemakers Salvatore Ferragamo and Sergio Rossi despite steep prices (from $300 to $2,500). Reps for cobbler Jimmy Choo say they are fielding orders from Elizabeth Hurley, Jennifer Lopez, Lauryn Hill, and Mariah Carey. ”The python texture has been out of fashion for almost a decade already — and we all know how everything in fashion gets regurgitated,” says Catherine Zeta-Jones’ stylist, Fati Parsia. ”The nice thing is we’re seeing the colors of the millennium — bright colors and very little black.”

Credit the inventive Crayola coloring to Choo, who, in turn, was inspired by another designer. ”Versace did the tie-dye look last season, and we were looking for the next step in colors,” says Sandra Choi, head designer at Jimmy Choo. As for the inevitable python-rights protesters, Choi is unfazed. ”There are bound to be people who are upset,” she says, ”but people are always looking for something more exotic than what they’ve seen.”