Monday, February 25, 2013
Trying to Get Comfy with Leopard ...
The women in the family of my youth never EVER wore leopard print. The combined opinion of my mother and two grandmothers was that only girls of questionable character ( fast girls, cheap girls, easy girls, tacky girls ... bad girls generally) wore leopard.
Am I the only one who was taught this?
It's certainly not news to anyone reading this post that leopard had been in serious revival for several years now. I never thought it would last, and boy, was I wrong about that! Of late, I'm seeing even more of it, and in all colors and in every kind of clothing. And on women of the absolute highest character and stiffest moral fiber. It has clearly transcended it's seedy reputation, if it ever actually had one. Maybe the women in my family were just that style-repressed.
Let me be clear: I absolutely understand that leopard print is something that I should just ignore if it makes me uncomfortable. And that would be the sensible thing to do. However, it's everywhere. Everywhere. And it just grates on me that I'm squeamish about a piece of fabric. So, face what bugs you, right?
I decided to take a brief sashay down memory lane, and take a look at who wore leopard and why it so was so dangerous and it so upset my foremothers.
Well, yeah. I get this one. Famous pinup Betty Page was hard to compete with for pure animal magnetism. Yikes.
Ava Gardner presents a less primal sort of heat, but still, there's no mistaking the message.
Jayne Mansfield held aloft by Mickey Hargitay. Not much equivocation here either. Nope. Not only did one need to be curvy, but athletically gifted as well. I can see why a woman like this might intimidate Mom and the grandmas.
And Marilyn Monroe, of course.
I'm beginning to see a pattern here.
For me, the most memorable leopard-wearing lady was the wondrous Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson. I was an unsophisticated seventeen year old in 1967, the year I saw The Graduate.
She wasn't just wearing leopard lingerie as she stalked poor, flummoxed Dustin Hoffman. She was a leopard. Completely predatory. Talk about a woman wearing the clothes instead of clothes wearing the woman.
But then, there are the mixed messages sent by some leopard wearers. For example, here's one of the eternally virginal Sandra Dee.
Rizzo may have underestimated her a little. But still, she's a long way from being overtly sexy.
And then things even became more confusing when women like Jackie Kennedy wore leopard. When you consider that part of the lure of leopard was it's exotic expensiveness, her choice gives another completely different vibe to the pattern.
But if there was one woman who could out-ladylike Jacqueline Kennedy, it was Audrey Hepburn. And when she wore leopard, it became the complete opposite of tacky-tawdry. Full circle.
It's clear that you can't judge a woman by her spots, so to speak.
Perhaps my comfort levels will increase if I find a way to try just a little bit of leopard, but still keep it at arm's length ...
Taaadaaa! Nope, not real leopard. Just teddy-bear fur. Not even a real Fendi, nor a complete knock-off. Just "inspired by".
I'll let you know if my character gets ruined.
On another subject entirely ...
I have the wonderful Pao at Project Minima to thank for an introduction to the very interesting young ladies, Salizar and Jess who produce Style Imitating Art, which is not so much a place as a movable feast of inspiration. They choose a piece of art, and encourage others to respond to it.
This time they chose an untitled lithograph by American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt.
Here's my response to it.
See what others submitted tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/26) at Jess' place, Animated Cardigan
I'm linking up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style . I know her to be a woman of impeccable taste and the highest character. She wears leopard. 'Nuff said.
Have a great week!