In this lush compendium illustrated with full-color images, the author of The Burlesque Handbook chronicles the history of one of the world’s most beloved fashion patterns—leopard print—celebrating its beauty and place in couture, and the women who have dared to wear it.
In nature, the distinctive markings on big cats served as camouflage, helping them to blend into their surroundings when hunting prey. Unlike these magnificent predators, humans have donned this distinctive animal pattern to be noticed; leopard print demands an audience. Jo Weldon, an expert in the world of burlesque, reveals how this sexy, playful, decadent, and vibrant pattern once reserved for royalty came into vogue and became a staple of fashion.
With the revolution in technology and the rise of mass production in the early 1900s, textiles could be produced quickly and inexpensively, transforming every industry. Couture experienced a creative awakening: colors, prints, and patterns never seen before became ubiquitous. A greater freedom of choice in ready-to-wear clothing gave women the opportunity to express themselves in new styles. From its inception in textile, leopard print—long used as a symbol of a warrior’s power or a ruler’s wealth—became a sensation, adopted by daring trendsetters and members of the avant-garde, including film stars and celebrities such as Carole Lombard and Josephine Baker, who walked her pet Cheetah, Chiquita, on a diamond-encrusted leash. The desire for leopard print continues today as Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and other stars flaunt their feline-inspired spots on film and stage, the catwalk and the red carpet.
With a lively narrative, informative sidebars, and stunning images, Fierce is a must have collection for designers and fashionistas of all kinds.
Jo Weldon is an expert in the study of contemporary burlesque, women’s issues, and fashion. Her writings and transcripts of lectures on the history of leopard print have been published in Mental Floss, Time Out New York, and the New York Times. As headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque, she teaches weekly classes and tours internationally, teaching and performing. Weldon combines years of professional experience as an adult entertainer with a deep understanding of women’s issues. She has presented media analyses of women’s rights in conferences around the country and lobbied at the U.N. for inclusion of diverse perspectives in human rights initiatives. She lives in New York City. You can find more of her work, and more about leopard print, at www.joweldon.com.