LEOPARD PRINT: A FASHION HISTORY
From Elizabeth Taylor to Kate Moss, leopard print has always been a firm favourite among stylish women. Here’s how it became a wardrobe cult-buy…
Leopard print is, as the saying goes, an ‘oldie, but a goodie’. The bold pattern can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt, when, because real pelts were rare, women stencilled leopard prints onto linen sheaths. African leaders wore animal skins to show their power, and Napoleon’s troops trimmed their helmets and saddle covers in leopard skin, cementing the prints bold, confident reputation.
Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Mansfield wearing leopard print.
Leopard print outfits are always attention-grabbing, but none more so than American actress Marian Nixon’s. In 1925 she turned heads – and probably crashed cars - as she walked down Hollywood Boulevard in a leopard skin coat, accessorising with her pet leopard on a leash. The print became a symbol of Hollywood glamour, used by MGM costume designer Gilbert Adrian and loved by Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and serial leopard print wearer Jayne Mansfield.
Christian Dior muse Mitzah Bricard and a Dior leopard print dress from 1947.
CATWALK CULT PRINT
It wasn’t until 1947 that leopard as a print – rather than a fur – became fashionable. Inspired by his muse Mitzah Bricard, who loved leopard print, Christian Dior’s spring/summer 1947 collection featured a leopard print silk-chiffon evening gown and day dress. Designers Norman Norell and Roger Vivier followed suit in the 50s, designing leopard print halter tops, shoes and bags.
Sienna Miller as Edie Sedgwick, Alexa Chung and Kate Moss wearing leopard print.
The iconic print has had many incarnations, from Edie Sedgwick’s 60s beatnik to 70s punk and 80s glamazon. These says, Kate Moss and Alexa Chung live in their leopard print coats, and it crops up on the red carpet as often as it does on the street. Sassy, sexy - Anne Bancroft wore leopard print lingerie to play Mrs Robinson in The Graduate in 1931 – cool and classic, it’s no wonder leopard is a universal fashion favourite. We love it so much we’ve created dresses, skirts, shirts and tops in the cult pattern to help our fellow leopard fans get their fix. Warning: you’ll want to buy it all…