Fierce Facts About Leopard Print
Here's a taste of what I discovered while researching for my book! If you know some things about leopard print, feel free to email me. I'll be happy to quote you and credit you! It's always exciting to learn more.
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Fierce Facts About Leopard Print
1) It’s not always leopard print. Ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, and even tiger prints are often mistakenly called leopard. Leopard spots, known as “rosettes,” are thick broken circles of black around a gold center. Ocelots have elongated rosettes; jaguars have spots in the middle of their rosettes, and cheetahs have spots without rosettes. Tigers, of course, have stripes!
2) It’s wild. Leopard spots, which make humans stand out, are an evolutionary adaptation to help leopards blend in to their natural environments when they hunt.
3) It’s divine. Leopard was a popular motif among ancient gods and goddesses, such as the Egyptian goddess of writing and wisdom, Seshat; and Dionysus, the god of wine and frolic, who was often depicted riding or running with a leopard.
4) It’s regal. Zulu chieftains are known for their leopard capes and crowns. The notorious Henry VIII forbade commoners from wearing leopard. After King Louis XIV imported animals from Africa for his menagerie and decorated Versailles with exotic skins, animal print became all the rage in 18th century France. Marie Antoinette, spouse of King Louis XVI, was once pictured as a leopard who couldn’t change her spots after she disguised herself in an attempt escape the revolutionaries. Not long after, some of Napoleon’s officers would decorate their helmets and saddles with leopard skins.
5) It’s outrageous. In the 1910s/20s, bulky leopard print velvet, fabric, and fur coats were popular with young college women and flappers, who needed heavy coats to wear over their new short skirts when they rode in unheated cars.
6) It’s modern. 1930s movie stars were often spotted in leopard as it became increasingly popular on both fabric and faux fur, which became cheaper as affordable synthetic textiles were invented – a very important development during the Depression.
7) It’s sophisticated. Leopard print became a sensation in haute couture after Christian Dior presented a leopard sheath dress in his debut collection in 1947. He was inspired by his muse, Mitzah Bricard, known for wearing a leopard-print scarf on her wrist. He said of the print, “If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.”
8) It’s a second skin. Leopard print appeared on lingerie in the 1950s, launched in a tantalizing marketing campaign by Vanity Fair that lasted for over two decades, and it became a staple in Frederick’s of Hollywood’s sexy catalogs. Leopard print swimsuits became hugely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, shortly after the bikini was invented.
10) It’s compassionate. Leopard print became most popular after exotic cat fur was made illegal for trade in the 1970s. Many current members of the Shembe religion in Africa, who wear leopard during some significant events, have chosen to replace their real leopard furs with faux furs in order to help preserve leopards in the wild.
11) It’s eye-catching. Though the cats' pattern evolved in nature to help them blend into the shadows, it makes humans stand out, and it has primal impact. Scientists believe that one of the reasons we find it sexy is because of a phenomenon known as "misattribution of arousal," where our physiological response of fear of these dangerous animals -- pupil dilation and adrenalin flow -- is translated by our brains into a sense of arousal. Some believe the sight of it has an effect in the wild as well, so Zufari, a wildlife park in London, banned guests from wearing leopard prints because they believed it excited the animals!
12) It’s classic! It's always in style, and it’s more popular than ever right now. Most major designers’ collections in 2018 featured the print in every season. It’s worn in every walk of life by every age and gender, and it looks fierce on everyone!