By: Iris Tang /
Fashion trend comes and goes. Many trends only survived for a season or a year. Nevertheless, one of the trends that never seem to go out of style is Animal print. Animal print is a fashion style that made to resemble the pattern of the skin and fur of an animal such as leopard, cheetah, zebra, tiger and giraffe. Animal print has been a popular and timeless trend in clothing, and it has been extending to other fields such as shoes, accessories and home decoration.
How does this trend remain in style for so long? And what is the history behind it? This trend of wearing animal prints started in the ancient time when clothing was used only for protection. It develops over time and became a fashion symbol that represents social status and style. In my presentation, I will talk about the history of animal prints, how these patterns is developing and extending to other fields, and at the end I will talk about the feelings associated with animal print.
The history of animal print started in the ancient time when clothing was used only to keep people warm and for protection. Back in the days of cavemen, they used animal’s fur as clothes and blanket.
Throughout history, kings and other high-ranking people have worn animal skin and use animal rugs as a sign of status and power. In Africa, furs were seen as a status symbol that was only affordable to royal families and the most powerful people in the society. It was a primarily masculine pattern, associated with the hunters who killed the beast. Today, Leopard skin is still wore by the highest-ranking men in some African countries. In Egypt, only the highest-ranking priests were allowed to wear the “symbol of Shehat”, which is a leopard skin robe.
In the 20th century, fashion designers, high-ranking people, Hollywood stars and celebrities turned it into a fashion trend
The rise of animal print:
In 1925, American film actress Starlet Nixon wore a leopard coat and standing with her pet leopard
In 1940s, the emergence of the pin-up girl as a new American icon, Bettie Page wore a iconic animal print swimsuit
In 1950s, Actress Elizabeth Taylor, the “timeless beauty” wore animal print swimsuit
In 1947, Christian Dior being the first introduced a leopard print dress
Dior followed his heart and infused his accessories, lines, and campaigns with leopard. The forward movement redefined animal print to a level of chic sophistication and elegance.
In 1954, Marilyn Monroe was photographed wearing a lovely leopard print scarf during her vacation.
In 1950s, First lady – Jackie Kennedy wore a animal print coat
In the 50s, Roger Vivier, a French fashion designer was the firs one to introduce animal print heels
– The end of the 1960s, a whole new revolution by the hippie movement. animal print became popular women’s apparel in different new color.
– In 1970s, the punk rock movement brought a new vibe, a dangerous and wild vibe to animal print in fashion
In the 1990s, the Spice Girls walked in animal print on the runway
Also in 1990s, Gianni Versace used animal print in all his collections.
Nowadays, many famous brands, like Prada, Betsey Johnson, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior are big supporters of animal print. Supermodels, Hollywood stars and celebrities are also big fans of animal print.
Animal print trend is being hunted down everywhere in fashion nowadays. In clothing, you can find them in women’s wear, men’s wear, kids’ wear and even costumes. You can also find them in shoes, accessories, like sunglasses, jewelries, handbags and scarves. They are also very popular in home decoration, such as furniture, wall decoration, and curtains. You can even find animal print bedroom and bathroom products, like bed sheets, towels and candles.
But why do we like to wear animal print?
– Many psychologists believe that it is because the patterns are locked into our DNA, going back to a time when our ancestors were hunter-gatherers and animal skins were treasured for their warmth.
– They think that we wear animal print because we are searching to discover our primitive past.
– Many indigenous societies believed that by wearing the skin of an animal, you were harnessing that animal’s power
A psychology article online:
– One psychologist posted an article online and said “Our ‘inner cavemen’ side came out when we saw animal print. We are instantly automatically subconsciously primed with a version of the classic ‘fight or flight’ response.
– They believe that whenever a human sees another human wearing animal print, there is a significant amount of subconscious fear activated in the centre of the brain.
– From the same article, the psychologist said that animal print increase attractiveness because the subconscious fear response causes increased looking time.
– In the mind of most males seeing females in animal print, their fear led them to keep an eye on it because it reminds them of the ‘wild predator’
It’s very interesting that the psychologist said:
“ You might find this happening to you at the zoo. Lets face it. Standing near the fence looking in the opposite direction of a predator, like a leopard. Give it a try, you have to force yourself to look away. Also, even when looking at zoo tigers you may also notice a little moments of anxiety when you lose sight of one tiger. It’s natural to prefer to know where the beast is and to be able to keep an eye on it.”
Feelings associated with animal print:
What feelings does animal print bring to you? Wild, exotic, luxury, classic, wealth, fun, dangerous, adventurous, glamorous, or sexy?
– When Kings and high-ranking people used it, animal print represent royal, luxury, classic, and a sign of power and wealth
– In the 60s, when animal print was popular in the hippies culture, the concept to wear animal print was to be wild and free like an “Easy Rider”
– In 1954, after Marilyn Monroe was photographed in a leopard scarf, it became an instant symbol of glamour and adventurous
– In 1970s, during the Punk rock movement, punk rock stars showed to wild side of animal print
– In 1980s, Joan Collins wore diamonds, fur and a strapless leopard gown brought animal print back to glamour mode
– Now, many Hollywood stars and supermodels wear animal print to be sexy and fashionable
Why do you think animal print can stay in style for so long?
Do you think people feel differently when we are wearing or using the actual animal skin’s products rather than the fake and print products?
When we wear animal print, do we feel like we have the power over the animals or we want to resemble the animals?
It was a very interesting research for me to learn more about this long lasting fashion trend – animal print. The most fascinating part was toward the end of this project. I originally started with researching about history of animal print. Then I saw many of the articles talked about human feelings associated with animal print that made me started thinking about the reason why people like to wear animal print. As I do more research on the association between human and animal print, I found some articles about animal print psychology where the authors talk about how this psychosocial fashion boom associate with human, why it could be wore by al shapes and ages, and how it graces the streets of every city and cultures in the world. I found this very intriguing. Why we like to wear animal print is because it’s lock in our DNA or that we feel like others will look at us in a certain ways to catch attentions. I questioned myself many times why do I like animal print, and it’s really difficult to think about the reason, which makes me believe what the article says even more, because it’s in my DNA and my brain. I really enjoyed this project, and I hope it gives you a good background on the rise of animal print and inspires you to think about why people like animal print.
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