When Anne Hathaway paraded down the recent Golden Globes red carpet in a glittery Elie Saab gown that was made up of a patchwork of leopard prints, she was on to something bigger: the actress was tapping into a big trend for Spring/Summer ’19 that sees feline prints from ocelot to leopard as a key pattern of the season.
At Richard Quinn, couture-like confections were swathed in leopard spots, while Rochas punctuated its film noir heroine-worthy wardrobe with the print festooned in glitter and sequins. What stands out about the latest evolution of the aesthetic is that these items come with major vintage cachet and hark back to a time when flaunting the print was a mark of a woman’s social standing.
While most might associate the print with the risque and riotous wardrobes of punk stars and female bad chicks like Debbie Harry and Grace Jones, the appeal of the look goes back even further to the ’50s and ’60s when owning a fur coat with leopard prints was a luxury. And who can forget femme fatales like Anne Bancroft in The Graduate and Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, who immortalised the trend on the silver screen, incidentally in the same year in 1967?
Indeed, there was always an element of seduction about wearing the look. As Christian Dior succinctly put it in The Little Dictionary of Fashion (1954): “But to wear leopard you must have a kind of femininity which is a little bit sophisticated. If you are fair and sweet don’t wear it.” Translation: wear the print with attitude.