In fashion, it’s only natural for vintage pieces to magically reappear into the style lexicon – if there’s one truth in this industry, it’s that rebirth and recycling past concepts into fresh ideas for the next generation is celebrated. However, some styles – like the little black dress – never lose their allure. Particular elements are so iconic that they eventually become wardrobe staples and, now, we can genuinely say that leopard print is one of them.
Perhaps Jackie Collins said it best: “My only weakness is I wear too much leopard.” We agree, Jackie, we agree. Since the glamorous age of Elizabeth Taylor through the achingly cool days of Edie Sedgwick and the contemporary times ruled by Emily Ratajkowski, the brown and golden spots have had the stars hooked. Maybe leopard print keeps resurrecting, or maybe it never left. Need proof? Scroll to see how some of the biggest names have worn it through history.
A time of decadence and girlish figures, this was the golden era of Hollywood. Along with the “New Look”, the 1950s brought with them new silhouettes, vibrant colors, and mass garment production (hello, ready-to-wear). Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Tierney and Marilyn Monroe made their names as the “It” girls who had one key sartorial thing in common: a love for leopard print – perhaps it was these starlets that made the print eternally seductive?
As the 60s came along, Sophia Loren hit center stage, becoming an international bombshell whose style became as envied as her figure. With Beatlemania in the mid-60s, mod was ushered in with streamlined, retro designs. On the other side of the spectrum, socialite Edie Sedgwick created a name for herself as Andy Warhol’s muse – and she happened to love animal print.
Taking a very different turn from the previous decades, an explosion of color, social change, and casual wear took the 70s by charge. As rebelling against the previous norms became more popular, it gave way for disco, Mary Quant miniskirts, and the hippie movement. Jerry Hall took the spotlight with a style that was uniquely hers and, in another case of musicians becoming fashion icons, a young Debbie Harry was just getting started.
What can we say about the 1980s? Big shoulder pads, big hair, big everything. A time when neon was king and hairspray was everywhere, silhouettes became more dramatic and made for a very wild time in fashion. Jackie and Joan Collins made waves as sisters who were as talented as they were gorgeous and, boy, did they know how to rock a leopard print. A young Angelina Jolie was also starting to enter the world stage in the quintessential 80s minidress, which is a tad different from her current aesthetic.
Yes, grunge is what the 90s are known for, but in reality, this period gave us much more than we give it credit for. Azzedine Alaia’s Fall 1991 collection was entirely made of leopard print and everyone was wearing it – even Princess Diana was ‘spotted’ wearing it. Ah, what a glorious time it was, the last decade before social media would come and turn the fashion world on its head.
When women think of fashion in the 2000s, there’s nothing that springs to mind quicker than Sex and the City. It may not have started out as a show about what the characters wore, but the styling genius of Patricia Field made fashion a fifth member of the cast. Not straying far from the runways, leopard print continued to make its mark in Dior’s Fall 2008 haute couture collection. Can you say, “Meow”?
Today, leopard print is as relevant as ever. With trends lasting mere minutes and no real “voice” of the decade to shine through, this is a time of true freedom to pursue personal style. Stars like Emily Ratajkowski and Scarlett Johansson have been fans, while fashion insiders such as Sabine Getty have also gotten on board. The way it did for the designers of yesteryear, this print continues to influence, with creatives like Charlotte Olympia tapping into its versatility for a new collaboration with Adriana Degreas.