Leopard Skins and Prints: The Good and the Bad


Thoughts on Leopard skins and prints have been wide spread since the early 20th century. It has either been a highly valued, luxurious and sophisticated item among the upper class or a rather trashy sign. It has been worn by president’s wives, royalty, and even rock stars.

Leopard skin coats and other clothing and accessory items became especially popular in the 1920s after movie stars like Joan Crawford strutted through Hollywood movies in the skin. One fashion designer of the time, Christian Dior, kept the trend going for the most glamorous of women. He was quoted, ” If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.” In the 1950s and 60s, this gave way to the idea that a woman who wore leopard was a trophy wife. In other words, the print represented a rather “undomesticated” woman.

The print that was once seen as sophisticated now became a trashy symbol. It made itself into a racy Hollywood catalog, Fredericks of Hollywood. When the 1970s and 80s rolled around, it evolved even further into a must have piece for rock and roll performers and fans everywhere, however as a print and not a skin. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 kept leopards from being slaughtered for their skin.

As time went on, leopard print became popular among women for representing not only their feminine sexuality, but also a more powerful symbol for them not so much being a predator, but them not being a prey in society. The leopard stood for independence, power, and courage, making an ideal symbol.

The Historic Clothing and Textiles collection is home to many clothing items such as hats, coats, bags, and shoes that have the leopard print or skin, as well a snow leopard long sleeve coat for women dating back to 1965-1975.

These shoes to the left are dated from 1965-1970. They are leopard fur skin pumps with a square toe and chunky heel.










Ringing The New Year In Style

Christmas has come and gone, the presents have been opened, the laughter has been shared, and now it is time to ring in the new year. We have turned from red and green to sparkling silver and gold.

The celebration of the new year began over four millennia ago in Babylon. Babylonians chimed in the new year in march with the first new moon following the vernal equinox. Every year, a new king would be renewed or his throne would stay in place. It was a process on history to reach the calendar we have today. The Roman Calendar originally had 10 months and 304 days. Numa Pompilius, a king in the eighth century, added Januarius and Februarius. However, Julius Caesar changed it to the Julian Calendar when he saw that the stars and moons were not aligning. Astronomers and mathematicians were called to fix this problem and eventually his calendar, which resembles the modern Gregorian calendar that we use today. January 1st became the official start of the new year to honor Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings. For medieval European Christians, the official date became January 1st for a different reason. It followed and preceded certain religious holidays such as December 25, the birth of Jesus, and arch 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.

While the Romans celebrated the new year with sacrifices to their god, Janus, and decorating their homes in laurel branches, today’s celebrations look different. The celebration vary in different parts of the world in present date. For example, the people of Spain eat 12 grapes in the moments before the new year. In the United States, the biggest celebration is in Times Square, New York. The music, fireworks, and dropping of the ball all are all part of the celebration. Millions of people watch this moment on TV. It has been a tradition ever since 1907. What you wear on new years is dependent on how you plan to celebrate. Some occasions call for black tie when a dinner with family only calls for a casual fit.

Here are two dresses perfect for ringing in the new year. To the left is a ladies short feathered evening dress. The aqua tulle is accompanied by a slightly fitted straight silhouette. It has a high rounded neckline and is sleeveless with bias banding. the entire dress is hand beaded and embroidered with aqua and gold metallic thread with tiny seed pearls, various shaped crystal bugle beads, small gold balls, clusters of iridescent rhinestones and flower heads. The aqua feathers ae applied on the beading creating a glimmer shimmering affect. The dress ranges from 1964-1965 and was designed by Pierre Balmain in in Paris, France.

Pierre Balmain was born on March 18, 1914 in Paris, France. his father was a drapery salesman and died when Pierre was only seven years old, and his mother owned a fashion boutique with her sisters. He founded his company, Balmain, in 1947. His post-war looks were very feminine for the day, making his designs stand out. He loved richly embroidered fabrics, nipped in waists, and long, fuller skirts. He said dressmaking was “the architecture in movement.”


The next dress is a long pink silk dress with gold an silver sparkles. It ranges from 1980-1989. the creator is unknown, but the dress is perfect for new years because of its silver and gold sparkles.






history.com Editors. (February 16, 2010). New Year’s. Lasted updated September 12, 2018. Accessed on December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years