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The History of Leopard Print
As seen in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN , Dressed Podcast , and other international press!
Fierce: A History of Leopard Print!
Online Illustrated Lecture
September 19, 2022, 8-9.30 pm EST
Led by theatrical fashion historian Jo Weldon, author of Fierce: The History of Leopard Print, our virtual journey into the colorful history of leopard print will include:
The evolution of leopard print over the ages, from being worn by ancient Egyptian pharaohs to dandy young European men in the 18th century
Fashion icons and pioneers who elevated leopard print as a cultural statement, including Jackie Kennedy Christian Dior, and RuPaul
How disco and punk made leopard print cool again after being labeled 'tacky' for much of the 20th century
The 101 on how to tell leopard print from other patterns, such as cheetah, jaguar, or ocelot!
Details and Tickets
See photos of Jo's in-person event in AMNY!
July 28, 2023
Leopard Print:
History's Fiercest Fashion Statement
Live Webinar!
Enjoy Jo's Celebrated Illustrated Lecture Online:
Details and Jo's Other Events
Email to contact Jo.
Gift Shopping? PopSugar says:
"The fashion-forward chick on your list deserves to read this book! Plus, it doubles as a cute coffee-table accessory!"
Order Fierce from your favorite independent bookstore!
Check out this list!
 "A gorgeously done work that cleverly dives into the intersection of fashion, sex, politics, feminism, socio-economics and more, and the results are pure eye candy AND brain candy! Reserve your copy today, and have the fiercest coffee table in the land y'all." -- Kitten LaRue
"Fierce is fun and entertaining. At its very core, it is inspirational." -- Amy Raymond
"LOVE this book! Everyone who has embraced some kind of animal print piece in their wardrobe or admired someone in animal print must read this! The pictures are so captivating, there is no other book like this." -- Beebet
"If you love leopard print as much as I do, this is the book for you. Throughout this impeccably researched book, Jo covers all aspects of the history and significance of leopard. Included are 150 captivating images, which enhance the fun and fascinating information that is presented.  Be prepared to be entertained and to meet amazing heroes, goddesses, icons, trophy wives, bad mothers, supervillains, activists, fashion designers, and more." -- Judith Boyd (Style Crone)
"Perfect in every way!" --Susie Meister
Author contact:
From The Author

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."    --Quote Attribution


If you love leopard print, this is the book you've been waiting for! It's full of over 150 images in color and in black and white, as well as the stories behind iconic moments in leopard-wearing fashion history.


I've focused on the big cats’ presence in contemporary popular Western fashion, and the power and independence of these magnificent animals we reference when we wear leopard print. Admiration for them is represented in thousands of years of art from around the world, relating in particular to the cats’ frequent inclusion in mythological, spiritual, and religious iconography. Associating with the best qualities of nature is one of the ways humans express themselves,  and to identify with the leopard is to identify with strength, adaptability, and independence. When we wear the print, we declare our association with these incredible animals.


The histories of both fur and textiles relate to natural resources, social strata, and spiritual practices on every continent. While my book is focused on the modern definition of "leopard print," our passion for wearing leopard spots is nothing new. In the 21st Century, we use the term "leopard print" to refer to a pattern on fabric that is practically a symbol of the right to choose what we wear. However, big cats, particularly leopards, lions, jaguars, and tigers, have been symbols of power and authority everywhere they are known, for thousands of years. Aztecs assigned the jaguar role to high-ranking warriors. In China the tiger has been considered the king of beasts, while in Europe it has been the lion. In many regions and countries in Africa, leopard pelts have been a sign of pride, bravery, achievement, wisdom, and power, and South African Zulus wore crowns and capes made of leopard pelts to signal their faith and status. In 20th century DRCongo/Zaire, military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko regularly wore a leopard skin hat, and later anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela wore leopard skins to release a dove at a rally to remember victims of a massacre and promote peace. These days some African leaders who wear leopard use faux fur to help protect the threatened species. Because leopards' fur has been so popular, their markings on textiles have been less common before the 20th century and the mass production of both natural and artificial fabrics. Historically leopard patterns were sometimes represented by stylized, often geometric patterns in African textiles, while on Asian textiles big cats were most commonly represented as full figures of the animals, yet in these antique textiles one rarely sees what we think of as leopard print. It became popular among wealthy Europeans in the 18th Century as countries amde both exploratory and military excursions to regions where the cats reigned.


The modern homage to the magnificence of big cats on fashion fabrics is connected to admiration of and aspiration to their best qualities -- self-sufficiency, physical prowess, resilience, and, above all, the quality of being fierce. The western practice of wearing leopard fur coats just for fashion was fortunately banned in the early 1970s. While I show those fur styles in the book so readers can see the influence of their silhouettes and details, I hope this book inspires people who love leopard print to find a greater love for living leopards as well and to not wear their fur, and encourages them to join the fight for their survival.


Not only can we refrain from wearing their fur, we can look at what constitutes sustainable fashion in ways that help preserve their habitats. This includes upcycling, recycling, and ethical manufacturing and disposal of clothing. Ethical manufacturing includes understanding the effects our industries have on the animals and their environments, as well as on the people who work in those industries, their health, their communities, and their economies. Sustainable fashion is not just an ideal, but a modern imperative. In my book I describe organizations that address these concerns. I urge you to support these organizations by raising awareness about them, donating if you can, and volunteering if you’re able. We will all benefit from a fashion industry that is as concerned with the bigger picture as with the biggest bottom line.


While researching this topic I found amazing heroes, goddesses, icons, trophy wives, bad mothers, supervillains, activists, fashion designers, and plenty of bold women who are willing to be seen. I can't wait for you to meet them! But most of all, I can’t wait for you to meet the cats themselves.



Stay Fierce!


Jo Weldon



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