Made for prowling – a short history of the leopard print
Once reserved for royalty, the sexy, wild yet sophisticated leopard print is now a favorite of both fashionistas and feminine feminists. But like the prowling leopard herself, that magnificent Queen of the Night, these spots cannot be tamed so easily…
“If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it,” fashion designer Christian Dior said when he presented a leopard-print dress in his ‘New Look’ collection. Throughout the ages, from Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, to rapper L’il Kim, squatting in a leopard-print thong with her legs spread, women have worn leopard to project fierceness and independence. It’s a pattern that evokes strong feelings. We feel desire but we know it’s dangerous. As writer Fay Weldon describes in her wonderful book ‘Fierce: The History of Leopard Print’: we love it or hate it, yet we cannot ignore it. It catches the eye. It may be ‘hot’ one season and ‘trashy’ the next, but for those who refuse to blend in, leopard print will always be in fashion.
A symbol of wealth and status, leopard fur used to be claimed by the rich and powerful, from African kings to 17th century French and Italian nobility. But with the introduction of mass-produced fabrics in the 20th century, leopard became available to a much wider audience. By debuting leopard on the catwalk, not as a pelt, but as a print, Christian Dior showed the fashion world in 1947 that you can have the pattern without the pain. Occasionally, real leopard fur would still be worn, most famously in 1962 by Jackie Kennedy. The popularity of her leopard-skin coat led to the death of as many as 250,000 leopards (according to the guilt-wrecked designer of the coat, Oleg Cassini). Finally in 1975, exotic furs would become officially outlawed.
Meanwhile, leopard print had been embraced by a new generation of feminists and fashion rebels. Worn by femme fatales like Elizabeth Taylor and Eartha Kitt (who liked to pose head-to-toe in the wild print, nonchalantly holding a cheetah on a leash) the pattern exuded sexual freedom. These women hunted purely for pleasure! By the time the 70s swung around, leopard print was considered ‘trashy’ and ‘tacky’ by the tamed masses. Oh well, this only made it more popular in the underground night scene. Here, punks and hipsters like Grace Jones and Iggy Pop understood: like the leopard whose powers come alive at night, this print was made for prowling. Sprint forward 20 years, and leopard spots have conquered the streets and catwalks. From Beyoncé shaking her stuff in Balmain to then-British prime minister Theresa May strutting into parliament in her signature leopard heels; women from all walks of life now proudly owned their spots. The message? “We will be seen, but claws out if you come too close”.
It’s quite ironic: a pattern that helps leopards blend into the shadows makes people stand out. But why do we find it so irresistibly sexy? Thanks to a phenomenon called ‘misattribution of arousal’, our deeply-embedded physiological response to the ‘danger’ of the animal print is interpreted by our brains as a feeling of arousal. (The Zufari zoo in London even banned guests from wearing leopard prints, believing it has the same effect on the animals themselves!). Perhaps this is why we keep being drawn to the print, generation after generation, fashion comeback after fashion comeback: to keep our inner wildness alive. As leopard print-obsessed photographer Émilie Régnier put it so beautifully: “We cannot choose the skin we’re born in, but we can choose the skin we’re showing.”
Welcome to the garden of EARTHLY DELIGHTS
You may not think of Frida Kahlo as a typical gardener – can you imagine her in rubber boots? – but together with her beloved Diego she turned the garden of their ‘Casa Azul’ into a luscious paradise of locally sourced flora.
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Ruthie Davis is just like the amazing shoes she designs: daring, empowering and totally fabulous. After making Reebok hip again and completely revamping Uggs, she launched her own brand 10 years ago and quickly became the go-to designer for feminine feminists like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.
“Unlock Your Potential” book launch in Amsterdam
The second workshop and launch of Marlies’ new book ‘Unlock your potential’ is a fact!
Selfmade STAR maker
She grew up in a town with 3 traffic lights; now Lisa Benson represents some of the top names in the industry like Chanel Iman, Chrissy Teigen and Kelly Rohrbach. I met up with the IMG model manager to talk about the art of persistence and the importance of dreaming big. “I always trust my instinct.”
Maison Marlies blog
The marlies|dekkers brand offers a wide variety of lingerie that can be worn by anyone and caters to every woman’s individual needs. Within our Maison Marlies blog you can read all about the life behind and surrounding the company. Whether you are eager to know where Marlies gets her inspiration for designing new lingerie collections, her lifestyle, healthy cooking ideas, or simply to share her taste in amazing art - you will find it in the blog. Our fearless creative director manages to find time to write about her business trips and even her shopping sprees and vacations for the times she can let her hair down for a while. And even while she is on holiday she will not leave you hanging.
Giving style advice
When you are feeling lost in finding the right fit or determine your bra size, Maison Marlies offers a set of guidelines so that you can continue shaking your bon bons without them falling out. You'll get style tips on how to wear and style your bras, and bikinis. You would not want a wardrobe malfunction which can actually be prevented when you are wearing high quality luxury lingerie. And when your breasts are kept in place in marlies|dekkers bras or bikinis, you can fully celebrate your femininity in all its glory and full potential. The blog offers advise on how to mix and match womens lingerie to boost, inspire your own fashion sense and keeps you updated on the latest fashion trends.
Marlies and friends
Her celebrity friends are also very pleased with that perfect fit a marlies|dekkers bra can offer you. These women proudly show off their marlies|dekkers lingerie sets in photoshoots for magazines, on stage when they're performing, during a cameo on tv or on the big screen in movies. Maison Marlies dedicates a special section of the blog to all gender equality related news so you are always updated about the latest developments around this special mission that embodies Marlies’ vision for the future.