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Wildcats: Leopard Coats to Buy Now and Keep Forever

Model wearing golden wool dress, gold jewelry, brown jersey hat, and leopard cape, leaning on basket *** Local Caption ***

Model wearing golden wool dress, gold jewelry, brown jersey hat, and leopard cape. Photograph by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, August, 1940

Leopard print left a mark on the Fall 2016 runways, where spots were splashed across outerwear. At Givenchy, creative director Riccardo Tisci mixed fur silhouettes featuring mega leopard prints, while Isabel Marant scaled down the dots on roomy, belted styles. Meanwhile, Dries Van Noten paid homage to the wildcat by cloaking models in spotted capes in a lineup dedicated to Marchesa Luisa Casati. The Milanese aristocrat, patron of the arts, and muse was notorious for her elaborate soirées, wearing live snakes as jewelry, and for owning pet cheetahs that she paraded around on jewel-embellished leashes.

As history documents, the leopard’s popularity in fashion dates back to the ‘20s when women of the Jazz age draped their shoulders with toppers made from real leopard pelts. In 1947, Christian Dior showcased his first collection dubbed New Look in the salons of 30, avenue Montaigne, and unveiled leopard print in lieu of using real leopard fur. Referring to the bold print that took shape in a waist-cinching, midi-length dress Dior stated, “If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.”

Top image: Leaning against 1960 Imperial LeBaron sedan, model applies Vesuvio lipstick by Princess Marcella Borghese wearing reversible coat of Somali leopard and black dyed mink with mink side out, a Capucci design for David *** Local Caption ***

Model wearing reversible coat of Somali leopard and black dyed mink with mink side out. Photographed by John Rawlings, Vogue, October, 1959

The power print saw a pivotal moment in the ‘60s in the form of coats. Actresses and style icons such as Elizabeth Taylor and Catherine Deneuve took cover under catty coats complete with matching accessories, and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis donned a custom genuine leopard double-breasted creation by New York-based designer Oleg Cassini in 1962. Meanwhile, in the 1967 film The Graduate, Anne Bancroft’s character defining wardrobe for her role as cougar Mrs. Robinson often featured in the feline printed coat. At the height of the decade, the leopard print coat went mainstream and evoked an air of glamour.

UNSPECIFIED : Liz Taylor in leopard skin coat and hat. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Taylor in leopard skin coat and hat in 1963. Photo by Getty Images.

During the ‘70s and ‘80s, the silhouette underwent a transformation and became a staple for rock ‘n roll entertainers as a sartorial means to express their wild side. Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, and singer Marc Bolan—who was one of the pioneers of glam rock—took it to extreme levels. Instead of donning leopard print as a cold-weather layer, they reached for head-to-toe ensembles in the fierce pattern.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Beretta/Sims/REX/Shutterstock (5147097e) Kate Moss +Kate Moss out and about, London, Britain - 22 Sep 2015

Kate Moss wearing leopard-print coat in 2015. Photo by Beretta Sims / REX

Today, leopard coats exude self-assurance and femininity. Kate Moss favors the exotic print, which has become the focal point of her signature off-duty style. Style star Alexa Chung and editor Carine Roitfeld elevate their outfits with the statement cover up. What makes leopard print so desirable is its versatility. As American fashion designer Jenna Lyons puts it, “As far as I’m concerned, leopard is a neutral.” For those who are not shy about showing their spots, shop Vogue Arabia’s edit of leopard coats in the gallery.

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