Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

The Old Leopard, as modelled by Bet Lynch (image via
Poor leopard, has there ever been a print more ferociously maligned? The very mention of the L word provokes scrunched noses and cries of horror amongst many fashion aficionados who see the animal spots as the very antithesis of good taste, a print reserved for brash items which would never grace the backs of anyone with an iota of class. The completely iconic look of Coronation Street's most famous landlady, Bet Lynch, is a case in point. It's a strong identity which Julie Goodyear carved out for her character but one which more often ends up on some kind of hilarious list of style no-nos than as something to be emulated. However, that may be fashion snobbery speaking too soon because a visit to almost any high street store will show that there is always at least a smattering of leopard print items on offer, which means that leopard must sell however unhappy some fashion editors might be about that. We mustn't forget that leopard hasn't always had such a bad rep; Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe did it in a super sexy way, of course, but it never tipped into Lynch tack territory.

Elizabeth Taylor does leopard (image via
Christopher Kane AW12 (image via
Now some big fashion players have stepped in to reverse the bad taste connotations of leopard. Catwalk wise, the image overhaul can be traced back to Gucci's AW12 show in which Frida Giannini showed several looks in jewel-hued devore, imprinted with those wild spots, and also to Christopher Kane's so-bad-it's-good shiny purple and red leopard Autumn/ Winter dresses and jackets. It was a stop point between traditional leopard vamp and it newly chic relative. Then came the Resort collections, which tell us a lot about we're really going to be wearing, the new classics to slot into our wardrobes. Phoebe Philo at Celine showed stark, panelled pieces comprised of one part coloured leather, one part  unbelievably unbrash leopard. Meanwhile, Stella McCartney went all out on head-toe-leopard coats, kimono tops and sporty trousers. There's a kind of fashion genius in this transformation but if leopard sells then that's as good an excuse as any for a designer to work with it in a challenging retail climate.

Celine Resort (

Mossy does leopard
Kenzo SS13 (image via
The leopard rebirth shows no sign of abating; Humberto Leon and Carol Lim at Kenzo drenched their leopard print with colour for SS13, a look which will surely go down a treat with the army of new fans they are fast accumulating. The new leopard was affirmed last week when Kate Moss wore the print top-to-toe at the signing of her new book. The key to making leopard chic again is shape, anything which is clingy or scanty won't work for the new mood. Think loose and bold. As always, accessories are a great way to do it too, graphic is good.

Who says a leopard can't change its spots?

Rebecca Taylor at Matches £475
Christopher Kane at Matches £1,105
Diane Von Furstenberg at Stylebop £257

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