Quick History of Leopard Print | Rare Dirndl
Quick History of Leopard Print

Quick History of Leopard Print

Trends come and go (and come and go), but there are some things that never go out of style. They may be more popular one season than another but, on the whole, they are forever pieces that form the cornerstones of our wardrobes. One of those trends is Leopard Print!

Historically, leopards have played a prominent role in iconographies around the world. The "Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük," a clay figurine dating back to around 6000 B.C., shows a female figure resting her arm on a leopard.

Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, is often pictured wearing a leopard or cheetah hide. And goddess Xi Wangmu, known as the Queen Mother of the West in Chinese mythology, is depicted with the teeth of a tiger and the tail of a leopard.

An Egyptian stele shows Nefertiabet, an ancient Egyptian princess wearing a leopard gown. Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection


With the evolution of clothes, kings and queens wore the fur of these more exotic animals to emphasize not only their wealth, but also the distance at which their kingdoms could reach—the ultimate measure of power. African leaders wore animal skins to show their power, and Napoleon’s troops trimmed their helmets and saddle covers in leopard skin, cementing the prints bold, confident reputation.  

 1962 - The Queen, dressed in a leopard-print coat, attends the Sandown Park race meeting with the Queen Mother. (PA Archive)

Although animal skins and furs were popular, it wasn’t until Christian Dior featured an animal print dress in 1947 that the use of prints instead of furs were seen in high fashion. Dior’s Spring/Summer 1947 historic collection featured a leopard-print silk chiffon evening gown and day dress. This revolutionized the way animal print pieces were worn. Many famous actresses began wearing animal prints, such as Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth. Then mainstream media followed. Jackie Kennedy was often photographed wearing a leopard coat in 1961, designed for her by Oleg Cassini.

 Jackie Kennedy wearing an Oleg Cassini leopard print coat and hat in 1962


Eventually, leopard print has silently become every woman's secret wardrobe weapon. Like wearing a red lip, the print instantly pumps up an outfit and looks good with almost anything. 

When I started Rare Dirndl in 2010, the first thing I knew I had to design was a Leopard Print Dirndl! It was our best seller for years until we ran out of fabric and the trend took a back seat to other things like fringe, metallics and florals.  

But guess what?!! It’s BaaaaAAAck!! That’s right, leopard print is back in trend, moving over zebra print, florals and more. Fashionista took a look at Paris street crowd for Spring 2020 Couture Week and saw multiple variations of leopard - from puffers to spotted suits. And we all know that Paris is the capital of fashion so we won’t argue with it!

What’s next for Rare Dirndl… I think you already know. CLICK HERE to get your trendy Leopard Dirndl.

How do you feel about this classic yet bold print? Do you love it? Is it a staple in your closet? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. 









Ever wonder which dirndl style you are? Click here to take out quiz and find out now!

Please note that some of the links in select posts are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. - Erika

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