The History Behind Animal Prints

Today’s post is all about animal print. It has been a staple in fashion since the early 1930s. However, before it became a fashion statement, it was a sign of power. Kings and Queens owned animal print rugs as a way to show social status, and hunters believed that the animal prints gave them the power of that animal. For example, wearing the skin of a cheetah would give them the speed of that cheetah. Even though people have decided it doesn’t give you power, fashion lovers continue to have a demand for animal print everything.

We began to see a rise in the demand for animal prints during the 1930s. One of the biggest movies at the time, Tarzan the Apeman, came out in 1932. MGM’s Johnny Weissmuller as “Tarzan”, and Maureen O’Sullivan as “Jane” wore animal print clothing. It caught the eye of the audience. For them, they saw it as adventurous, exciting, and attractive. Suddenly, manufacturers and designers came out with more and more animal print blouses, scarves, and coats than in previous decades.

Entering the 1940s, fur started to increase even more in demand after big names like Bettie Page, a model and one of the most famous pin-ups at the time, was featured in Jungle Bettie. Page dressed up in a leopard print mini dress creating an uproar for animal prints in the fashion world. The 1940s were also the early stages of the women’s movement. History was perhaps repeating itself by giving power and strength, in a sense, to the women who wore it. It created a fierce and rather risque look for many and gave a era of independence.

Then came the 1950s. A period of chic rather than risque. Christian Dior, a name still famous in 2018, opened up a whole new line all inspired by animal prints, more specifically leopard. His obsession of leopard came from Mitzah Bricard, his right hand woman. She was born in Paris, France on November 12, 1900 as Germaine Louise Neustadt. No one knew why she had changed her mind. However, she had married and divorced twice. After meeting Christian Dior, she became his personal consultant in a way. He mentioned, “Bricard is one of those people, increasingly rare, who make elegance their sole reason for being.” Dior relied on her for tips to improve outfits by adding accessories or taking pieces away. “From time to time, Madame bricard emerges from her hatboxes, sails in magnificently, gives one definitely adverse comment, condemns an unfortunate fabric with a look or suddenly plumps for a daring color.” Madame Bricards influence on Dior created a whole new era for animal print. It now became a statement piece for every woman. Beautiful yet chic. Bricard wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The hippie movement of the 1960s created a whole new world for animal print. Prints were now exotic and “out there”. Unlike the chic and sophisticated look of the 1950s, the new style was geared towards “The concept to be wild and free, like an ‘easy rider’.”New colors were being introduced and limits were being tested.

With the 1970s came punk rock, and with punk rock came very interesting styles for animal print. Inspired by the pop hits of the 70s, animal print was taken back to the 1930s when it was used to seem more attractive and funky. Suddenly, animal print was everywhere. Jumpsuits, undergarments, shoes, and bell bottoms were all infused with the animal print style. Entering the 80s, there was an overwhelming amount of animal print, and it even came with more prints than ever before. In past decades, it was all about leopard and cheetah, especially in the days of Dior. However, zebra and snakeskin were now added. Full dresses, blouses, skirts, shoes, and more were making a statement. Today’s style of animal print is well-rounded. It takes inspiration from all the previous decades in order to make the print classy yet attractive.


Foreman, Katya. “The Muse: Mitzah Bricard.” Accessed on November 16, 2018. Retrieved from

Walker, Alexis. “A Brief History of Animal Prints.” Accessed on November 11, 2018. Retrieved from














3 thoughts on “The History Behind Animal Prints

  1. That’s interesting how animal prints evolved during these years.
    I love animal prints myself and with years my love towards them just grows.

  2. The author needs to check out other historical facts, like when the mini was in style and when the early women’s movement took place.

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