style

From Pharaohs to Beyoncé: Why do we still love leopard print?

By Marianna Cerini, CNN

Published August 30, 2018

Courtesy Everett Collection

Leopard motifs -- and feline imagery in general -- have been used to signify power, independence and confidence for centuries.

Jo Weldon

Author of "Fierce: The History of Leopard Print"

Historically, leopards played a prominent role in iconographies globally. Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, is often pictured wearing a leopard or cheetah hide.

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An evolving trend:

Leopard print's reputation has gone through a number of iterations.

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Low-brow, provocative, tacky, dangerous, the list goes on. It's been worn by starlets and associated with cheap clothing. In pop culture, leopard-clad women have been identified as loose.

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High Fashion

Josephine Baker. Elizabeth Taylor. Jackie Kennedy.

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The motif has also been embraced by the upper echelons of fashion. Christian Dior is credited as the first designer to put leopard print -- rather than fur -- on the runway in 1947.

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Beyoncé publicly sported leopard print, as have Anna Wintour and Michelle Obama.

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"In all its forms -- sophisticated, luxe, rebellious, sexy -- (the) leopard print makes a statement. It can't be ignored, whether you like it or loathe it. That's why it's still so prominent in mainstream culture."

Jo Weldon

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