A Brief History of Print

by heytherewildflower

leopard scan

I went to high school in Costa Rica – my family still lives there. When I lived there with them, I was  involved in a conservation group focused on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula (highest concentration of biodiversity in the world and home to largest surviving pop of jaguars in Central America). My family is very involved with this organization still – though I abandoned it after going to college and becoming obsessed with collegial dynamics and my own fragile development  as a “writer”, blogger, campus personality, and internet escapist.

I loved the rainforest, but specifically, I love big cats . My forgotten passion was rekindled by accident. I started a tumblr. I can’t stop finding and sharing photos of big cats,  and …photos of ladies clad in tiger stripes and leopard prints.

…Today I googled the history of leopard print and discovered that Christian Dior designed the first leopard printed textile.   Dior says, “to wear leopard you must have a kind of femininity which is a little bit sophisticated. If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.”

His leopard became legend when Marilyn M wore his scarf and sparked the trend in moneyed sophisticates – (never fair and not at all sweet,  as defined by Dior’s type) .

Animal print was adopted into the Rock n Roll counter-culture canon in the 70’s.  Later, print was re-appropriated by the 80’s Glamazon, made capitalist coup in the 90’s, popularized by tweens – sold at limited too (MY first exposure).

Fur has similar history.

Royalty [The titled persons] hunt big cats/furry creatures, wear & display their trophies. These  communicate privilege within hierarchy of men, and power over beasts – In the 50’s, Dior takes and reinterprets power over man and wild- giving animal fashions to society’s darlingss –  later, Marilyn & co, like Miley & co today, appropriate from the  hip, or more worldly cohorts. Style sniping from the “bohemian” poor is always and forever the best mechanism for popular culture to present itself as anti-bourgeois – that is, until the bourgeois invest in the ideas sold to them.

Marilyn does not belong With popular colture.  She belongs to popular culture. and she belongs to everyone! Everyone owns her. Rock n’ roll’s  first queen.

In sum, counter culture claims the print! Baby-boomers monetize it.  Leopard print/ animal pelts play talisman in the narrative of power.  Man conquers beast. Man over men, above Woman, shaping  themselves like beasts . the beast is dead.

Dior named a convergent game when he introduced the textile print – animal pelt and animal print as vehicle for female / feminine/ feline / bestial / predatory “aggressiveness”.

Dior defines the print wearer as one who owns a  “sophisticated femininity” but is not “fair or sweet”.

I don’t think fur carries quite the same weight in the trajectory of aggressive femininity, but is still a luxury product – a trophy – a relic seized from nature’s best hunter, bested  in the hunt, by man.

animal print textile was intelligent and contrary design – a thesis in women’s fashion.

fur (real or faux) (luxury, counter culture, or consumer product) and print (real or faux) (luxury, counter culture, or consumer product) makes victim of the big cat,  “Bad Girl” society darling and consumer, but not blue blood, designer, or factory owner.

who hunts and who is hunted. he who dresses the hunted, who dresses himself,  makes trash of the trophy, replicates the trash, he who sells, she who buys, buys what …”