SWEET SPOTS: “I am a bit of a fanatical leopard-print aficionado. I have dozens of leopard-print things in my wardrobe, as well as leopard-print bathrobe, duvet cover, trainers, phone cover, handbags, dresses etc.,” said Hilary Alexander, who has penned her first book about fashion’s most perennial print — leopard — which is having another moment on and off the runway.
“Leopard: Fashion’s Most Powerful Print” (Laurence King Publishing) includes a foreword by Donatella Versace and tracks the history of the print and its timeless appeal. It will be released today, and costs 16.99 pounds.
Alexander, former fashion director of The Telegraph newspaper, examines the versatility of the print from its historical presence, Hollywood outfits and concert costumes to homeware and accessories.
“I was intrigued to discover Egyptian women, several thousands of years B.C., would stencil rosettes onto linen or cotton shifts. I was also fascinated to find Kublai Khan went hunting with a tame leopard riding pillion on his horse and that a Texan cavalry commander, Captain Sam J. Richardson, wore leopard skin trousers during the American Civil War,” Alexander added.
The book, which is mostly a visual archive, includes a series of film stills from Old Hollywood movies such as Katharine Hepburn in “Bringing Up Baby” and Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” wearing leopard print costumes. These are showcased alongside runway images from designers including Moschino and Saint Laurent.
While the book highlights the glamorous appeal of the print — and its association with high fashion and luxury — it also addresses some ugly realities, including the past popularity of leopard hunting and caging leopards as pets.
“The leopard is an amazing, beautiful, powerful animal that is endangered because of the dreadful lust to acquire its skin,” Alexander said.