Leopard Print: A Fashion History

The saying “history repeats itself” is true for fashion, too. It’s not uncommon for trends to come in and out of style—take chunky sneakers, scrunchies and chokers for example. 

Some people hate it and some people love it, but it is undeniable that leopard print has been a fashion staple for years. Because of its neutrality, it is the perfect print. You can pair it with any color and it creates a cohesive, fashionable look. Leopard print even evokes a feeling of pride, power, status, femininity and wealth. The iconic leopard print skirt, in particular, has been all over Instagram recently, and it already seems that leopard print will be taking over this fall, with sweaters, boots and even pants. The question is, when did it start?

One of the earliest times leopard was incorporated in fashion was with the actress Marian Nixon in 1925. She walked down Hollywood Boulevard wearing a leopard-fur jacket and walking her pet leopard on a leash— which caught the attention of designers and women across the country and sparked the long term trend. 

 

 

Christian Dior is credited with turning leopard print into a trend, as opposed to wearing leopard fur. Because leopard print did not harm any animals in the making, this was a game-changer. His spring/summer collection of 1947 featured a leopard print evening gown and a casual dress. Other designers followed suit in the 1950s, with leopard print tops, bags and shoes. 

 

Ever since then, every decade has taken a different spin on leopard print. During the ’70s leopard print jumpsuits fit the punk aesthetic. Bands and pop stars were seen wearing leopard print during the ’80s, and the print was seen in countless fashion magazines in the ’90s. Women everywhere were sporting the print not only while they were going out but also in the office. 

 

 

It has been nearly 100 years since Marian Nixon’s iconic leopard print moment, and the print is still on the runway, on the streets and all over Instagram. With all the buzz on animal print, designers are continuing to use it for their new releases. Kate Spade’s fall 2019 collection features animal print handbags, jackets and other accessories. 

According to Cliché Magazine, leopard print is the new neutral-- and it does not seem like it’s going away anytime soon (not that I’m complaining). Don’t put away your summer leopard print skirts and tops just yet: you’re going to need them. 

 

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Edited by Sydney Keener