This upcoming fall and winter, leopards have taken the lead as the true kings of the fashion jungle and its runways. Whether you’ll be rocking the classic black and brown leopard spots or you prefer a brightly colored version to beat the winter blues, let the one print you’ll be wearing this next season be leopard.
Kings of the runways
During Fashion Month, several designers took their collections for the upcoming fall and winter to the wild side of female empowerment. Some designers stood out by incorporating a brightly, even neon-colored version of the cult-favorite print in their collections. At Tom Ford, for example, attendees got a sense of retro Italy-meets-Beverly Hills exuberance, which borders on the edges of good taste and brilliance. Full neon and sequin leopard prints, furs and sparkling accessories, prowled down the runway in different contrasting forms. Think of delicate, lightweight dresses with ruffles in a soft lilac shade versus bright sequined powersuits that remind us of these glamorous and extravagant Los Angeles women that were at the start of female empowerment as we know it today. Diane von Furstenberg, too, chose to take the daring route of using a brighter leopard print in her fall/winter 2018 collection. For next season, the shapes and cuts of her pieces as well as the colorful geometric prints she is famous for seem heavily influenced by the sixties and the seventies. The real showstopper, however, is the bright yellow and black leopard print that might at first glance look scary, but seems surprisingly easy to rock on its own or in combination with one of the other beautiful prints in the collection.
Other designers chose to play it safer by posing the classic black and brown leopard print as a neutral around which you can build an entire outfit. Michael Kors, in his mission of empowering women and making them feel more confident, brought back one of the most daring prints to wear from under de dust and transformed it into a non-boring neutral that screams fierceness and, paradoxically, eclecticism when worn on its own or when paired with other prints. Inspired by the start of female empowerment in the eighties and the nineties, Max Mara‘s fall/winter 2018 collection as well features the classic black, brown and beige leopard print. This indicates it’s time for all women, whether they were there in the eighties at the very start of female empowerment or they have just started to fight for their rights, to gather and to consider themselves true powerwomen. Their simple yet always classy silhouettes enhance that message by not taking away any attention from the fierce yet feminine vibe that every look emanates and carries within itself.
Victoria Beckham, too, proved that a focus on impeccable tailoring isn’t equal to a boring collection. By adding in interesting design details, shapes and cuts, she updated her classy aesthetic to fit the more playful era that the fashion industry has entered. However, by incorporating a striking coat made fully out of leopard print and dresses in more abstract leopard prints, her collection never loses that element of class, style and luxury that characterizes the former Spice Girl’s brand. At Calvin Klein, Raf Simons did not disappoint with his third collection for Calvin Klein. In the collection, Simons constantly plays with the contrast between safety and protection and fragility. By designing pieces in leopard, he managed to find the perfect balance between the two by showcasing strong silhouettes while using a print that has been loved by women all over the world for decades.
At Area, Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg too were inspired by gender, ambiguity and embracing femininity. By showcasing heavily tailored pieces with a masculine shape but made out of soft, feminine textiles that hug the body in the most beautiful ways, the designers explored what it means to be a woman in a men’s world and how women can break free from the dominant patriarchy. With leopard details in several of their pieces and looks that solely consist of leopard, the many different aspects of femininity are highlighted even more. At Dior, Maria Grazia Churi decided to join in on the feral fun, but in a more subtle way. Churi was inspired by women’s protests that took place 50 years ago in front of Dior stores in Paris. With a nod to these protests caused by the lack of miniskirts in their boutiques, Churi built her 2018 pre-fall collection around the current feminist uprising. Churi chose to make women that wear the pieces in the collection feel more powerful by adding in subtle details of leopard, a print that signifies femininity, toughness, sensuality and power at the same time.
The evolution of leopard print in fashion
Leopard print has been a fashion fave for many women for over a century. Ever-popular but always-controversial, the print can be admired as expensive and sophisticated or condemned as vulgar and trashy, which makes it rotate between high-fashion and low-class. In her book ‘Fierce: The History of Leopard Print’, author and performer Jo Weldon offers us a rundown on how the iconic print became a fashion fave with a cult status.
In the 1920’s, fur coats with a leopard print were all the rage with the iconic flapper girls because of its association with royalty, wealth and sophistication. Leopard print was further endorsed during the 1930’s, when many famous Hollywood actresses, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Jayne Mansfield, wearing leopard fur coats became the symbol for classic Hollywood glamour. At the start of the forties, leopard print got an even more luxury look when it started showing up in eveningwear and gowns. It was only by the late forties that the print became more popular in ready to wear fashion when Dior released their leopard dress in 1947. At the start of the fifties, leopard started taking over the world when many brands, inspired by Dior, designed and manufactured their own pieces in leopard print and sold it all over the world. This was the first leopard print was truly accessible to each customer.
Up until this moment, leopard print was the ultimate symbol for wealth and status. In the late fifties, however, leopard printed lingerie and swimwear became insanely popular among women all over the world. This was the start of the connotation of sexual availability that leopard print still carries. This sexual connotation, however, didn’t slow down the spread of leopard spots. Many celebrities were spotted wearing the print during the seventies and the eighties. However, like with all fashion trends, leopard print would get a new life every single season. It’s trending look changed from flowy hippie to early eighties punk to late eighties glam and from high-fashion to lower-class and back around.
Today, leopard print still returns every few seasons as the must-have it-print. It however carries a lot of symbolism and different meanings that it has gathered over the years. This season, like we saw in the inspirations of multiple designers, leopard print is all about femininity and female empowerment, seduction and sex appeal. While wearing leopard, you can thus take on way more than just nine lives.