Leopard print, “terrific or Terrible”?
let’s figure out…
1960’s Christian Dior collection of Leopard coats lined up in from tof the Avenue Montaigne flagship store
Leopard print has become a wardrobe staple, an animal skin that transcends rebellious groups and fashions.
It’s just something you do or you don’t. So let’s do it right
In an article from the Guardian in August 2014, fashion Journalist Hadley Freeman entitled her article, “Is leopard print terrible or terrific?” as that question have long drown some ink between the Fashion Planet and the real world. For the Fashion Planet, and I, it is so obvious to sport it that leopard print has become a “neutral”. And this winter, high street fashion and women everywhere proved us right. Whereas in nature, this primal pattern is designed to blend in with your surroundings, in our modern world it is an aesthetic designed to make you stand out from the crowd. Not for the fainthearted nor conventional ones, Leopard print is something that seemingly never left fashion like many so many fads. And it made a full come back this winter. So let’s have a little overview of this fashion trend and let’s try to understand why it has become a wardrobe staple.
Cavemen use to wear leopard furs to protect them from the cold but also to gain strength and courage from the animal spirit. In 2565 AD, the Egyptian princess Néfertiabet was buried in an asymmetrical leopard sheath, a symbol of power and hommage to Bastet, protective goddess of mothers and children but also to Sekhmet, goddess of destructives forces. These two feline divinities evoked both woman creative and destructive powers. A image widely popularised by Betty Page in the 1960’s that longlastedly associated leopard skin with lust and over sexualised femininity.
Bettie Page as photographed by Bunny Yeager
American actress Marian Nixon with her pet leopard. Photograph: Google images
In the U.S, leopard print was the staples of starlets and always had a tacky version. The first “Grand Couturier” to use leaper print not only fir and turn it into a beacon of elegance was Monsieur Christian Dior with the launch of his Couture house in 1947. Yes, leopard prints were part of the new look and it was an instant hit within the clients.
Below here is the “Afrique” evening dress and her little sister “Jungle” afternoon dress from the SS1947 collection both of which I would gladly wear today.
This 1953 leopard Christian Dior print bustier gown covered sequins is an absolute beauty
and we can admire its modern version in John Galliano for Christian Dior 2008 Haute Couture Collection.
With a silhouette inspired by Singer Sargent’s provocative portrait of Madame X (Gautreau), John Galliano for Dior Haute Couture in 2008 added a stylised leopard print on duchesse satin.
This dress from the 2008 Spring Summer Collection is one of my favourites as it is feminine yet powerful at the same time
Though the leopard print has been despised by the bourgeoisie who found it vulgar and offensive, it continued to go strong decade after decade and survived any fashion trend imposing itself as a wardrobe staple.
Catherine Deneuve, Yves Saint Laurent absolute muse and perfect image of ice cold femininity, adopted leopard prints through out her life. Here in the 70’s wearing a leopard print trench coat, the mere essence of the “Rive Gauche” spirit, both independent and teasing to be tamed by the right man.
During his Fall Winter 1997-98 Couture Collection, Jean-Paul Gaultier sent down the catwalk a satin and leopard fur bustier gown which sent the PETA association through the roof. They were really close to throwing a pot of paint at the insulting garment. Thank got they didn’t.
Alaïa, Dolce Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli , all three brands known for their voluptuous and sensual vision of women make a prodigal use of the infamous print. Dolce and Gabbana being famous for lining their clothe with it.
From accessories to make up, perfumes and even kids collections, the leopard print is everywhere.
But do not forget that the first one to use it for a perfume ad was again Monsieur Christian Dior in 1949 for his Miss Dior perfume illustration by Gruau in 1949, still so modern and feminine . And this powerful animal still leads the way for empowered yet
feminine and seductive women all over the world. the only downside, you can never go cheap with leopard unless you have style and you know it.
Rent leopard print items from our collections
Limited edition John Galliano for Christian Dior calf-skin leopard-print saddle bag,
Market value: £450 , Hire: £64 for 4 days
Vintage 1997 Alexander Mc Queen for Givenchy leopard cocktail dress
Market value: £600, Hire: £90 for 4 days
Market value: £450 Hire: £70 for 4 days
You can discover our whole collection of carefully curated pre-owned and vintage luxury outfits available for rent on
come to our Soho Boutique located at
57 Brewer Street
London, W1F 9UL
to consign your pre-loved fashion gems with us
Rent, don’t buy.
Rent fashion, share fashion
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