Wearing animal print is easily something that can divide a room. There are those that think it looks trashy, whore-ish, and has an awful connotation of wearing an animal, even if it's not made of real skin (kinda graphic, sorry). Then there are some people that truly shine in animal prints (ex. Naomi Campbell). Animal print is sultry, it's fabulous as a statement, and there's something quite luxurious about it.
Historically speaking, there is a sort of predatory backbone to the trend. Royalty would use animal skin and pelts for rugs, decor, and embellishments on their clothes. This communicated their power, authority, and wealth, and if they had an animal more exotic, a sense of exclusivity. Some of the earliest traces of animal print being worn as clothing appeared in paintings from the 18th century.
It wasn't until centuries later animal print (and eventually artificially made animal prints) entered the mainstream through the film industry. In 1932, the film Tarzan the Apeman obviously had a very wild aesthetic, so the costumes reflected this. In 1968, The Graduate came out, having the title character frequently clad in animal prints (fitting, because she was a cougar ha ha). Eventually movie stars and highly public figures circulated the trend. From Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy - everything from their headbands to their jackets were sporting the elegant cheetah or leopard prints. It was the epitome of glamour and luxurious femininity, much like the intention of royalty in the 18th century. Needless to say, it was all very Hollywood.
Bringing it back to the 90's, the patterns of our favourite jungle cats were all that. What an explosive trend! It was around this time that animal print went from elegant to sexy! Some of our famous supermodels notably wore animal print for magazine shoots and just for daily life, because why not?
As an animal-print lover, I’d love to know exactly how animal print got a slightly bad and controversial reputation for being tasteless. I guess, as is the case with most trends, when it can be cheaply mass produced for the *ehem* commoners, it loses a sense of exclusivity, rarity, and value. Eventually, animal print had a connotation of representing not a wealthy and fabulous woman, but a woman who wasn’t affluent but tried to be and would do anything to claw her way to the top. Much like a sneaky jungle cat, she’s a woman in disguise. She’ll do whatever it takes to catch her prey. She’s clever, but in a lot of cases, she’s also dirty.
I guess it all connects to the animalistic behaviour we, as human beings, will always have. We’re fascinated by the cut-throat nature of these animals. Personally, I think animal print indicates something strong. It’s a person confident enough to wear an exciting pattern. It’s somebody who will go after whatever they want in life. It’s somebody who exudes sexiness. It’s also a really terrific neutral that goes with a lot of my clothes…..
Now I'd like to know, which side of the room are you on?