Exploring Berlin Trade Shows and shops, I noticed a least a couple of leopard print pieces in each location, some more subtle than others, however it was evident all the same. I feel that it has gone from the subversive to massively mainstream. I used to think that the nineties leopard trend was tacky and cheap, however chic leopard print isn’t hard to find now. It is no longer the reserve of grunge or rock and roll, but seen everywhere from the catwalks at Balenciaga to Net-a-Porter and Zara. I read that ASOS Wolf sold 1.3 million animal print garments last year.
I feel that leopard has become an accepted neutral similar to that of navy and camel. I started to research the origins of leopard print and discovered that Henry V111 had three leopards in his menagerie and Greek god Dionysus has been depicted in leopard print.
The print has been linked to eroticism and power. Around the 14th century, leopard fur was a style statement among the wealthy and therefore soon became a symbol of luxury. Although, it was also seem a practical too; in the twenties leopard print coats were worn by flappers to keep warm when the fabrics their clothes were made from became lighter.
The print was also featured in The Graduate (1967) where the leopard fur coat symbolised being set free from traditional life and norms and therefore symbolised rebellion. As a result of it now being so widely available, I feel it has lost this attitude to a greater extent.
However the popularity could say a lot about our current collect mindset with female empowerment being a large focus: animal print makes people feel and look ‘in-charge’. It could be the fashion industries way of reflecting on the power and place of women in today’s society.