Origin of the Trend: Leopard Print

Bold women are wearing bold prints this fall, with leopard rising to the forefront of the trend. Leopard prints have a history of appearing on accessories and garments of many fashion icons, including the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Kate Moss (exemplifying the coked-out leopard-style that can be oft replicated…with more sophistication), Beyonce and Christine Deneuve, convincing designers to incorporated it into the looks of this year’s Fall Fashion shows.

Having evolved from wealth-indicating furs swathing European royalty – picture overweight men with bristly beards tearing strips of meat off chicken legs in front of gold candelabras – to easily accessible cotton prints (a.k.a be glad for this trend’s evolution), leopard has consistently graced the shoulders of those with classy style that onlookers are eager to emulate. Because of its association with upper-class status, the trendiest women never fear the addition of leopard prints into their lavish wardrobes.

The 1960s saw an upsurge in the popularity of leopard-adorned outfits due to Jackie O’s leopard print coat (duh, it’s Jackie O, iconistia extraordinaire). Included in her state wardrobe, designed by Oleg Cassini, the coat became an icon for sophistication in the era. “Many years ago, I did a fur coat for Jackie Kennedy. I suggested leopard to her. She loved the idea because those kinds of looks had not been seen for a long time,” Cassini said, according to GreatHistory.com.

Subsequent decades created a paradoxical leopard-print trend, using it to bolster punk and grunge styles that rejected symbols of wealth and splendor. Cheap, mass-produced cotton prints were manufactured and gobbled up by the anti-society kids (whose reactions to life’s trials would serve to inspire this era’s hipsters).

This fall, however, is witnessing a full embrace of the imitative animal print, having been spotted (pun unfortunately not intended) in chic and feminine as well as tribal collections. Dolce & Gabbana, Mulberry, and Dris Van Noten are among the many designers experimenting with leopard-print garments on the runway.

Published at The Lion, The Stitch, and The Wardrobe on October 30, 2010.

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