With the prevalence of animal prints this season, I thought it would be fun to delve into the history of this trend that never seems to go away. Interestingly, the image and meaning of this trend morphs depending on the decade and how it is worn. Though fur was always a sign of status and power for royalty, animal print really became a fashion staple in the 30’s after the movie “Tarzan the Apeman” came out. Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan wore animal print clothing and women couldn’t get enough of this look that promised the adventure and excitement of the wild.
With the 40’s came the early stirrings of the women’s movement and animal print was there to convey an image of strength and power to those who wore it just as hunters used to think that wearing the animal’s fur conveyed its powers.
The 50’s saw the apex of leopard print as the ultimate in chicness through its adoption by Dior. Think Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. Dior’s elegant use of leopard exerts its power even now.
The wild and free 60’s were a perfect match for the allure of all things animal. Think Marianne Faithfull, Raquel Welch and Cher.
With the 70’s and the advent of punk rock, animal print becomes funky. Jumpsuits, bellbottoms, shoes – animal print is everywhere. Debbie Harry rocked this look.
Fast forward to fall 2020 and we are still mad about all things animal including leopard, cheetah, snake and alligator. Though the furs and the leathers are faux, there is nothing fake about their appeal.
Harper’s Bazaar calls animal print a “secret wardrobe weapon”. It can easily and quickly give just the right frisson of excitement to an outfit. And as we have seen through the decades, the image one wants to convey is limited only by ones imagination. Walk on the wild side, or stroll with the sophisticates… the choice is yours and animal prints are ready and willing. We will come back to styling tips in a later blog. Hold on to your leopard purse….