Roar Style: How to Wear Leopard Print

Make the most of leopard print with our styling guide.

10th July 2017

Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels founder Bea Tollman is well known for her love of style and elegant leopard print. Consequently, visitors to any of the Red Carnation Hotels will often spot the signature print in the décor, be it a cushion in a suite or a cocktail bar beautifully adorned with leopard print fabrics and furnishings.

As any keen follower of fashion knows, leopard print is so timelessly stylish that, along with the perfect black dress or crisp white shirt, it is considered a wardrobe essential. Trends have come and gone over the years but leopard print is, in sartorial terms, eternal.


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The Legacy of Leopard Print

Perhaps surprisingly, leopard print initially featured more in men’s clothing than womenswear on account of its hunting associations, which made it an apt symbol of masculinity. Female fashion’s infatuation with all things leopard can be traced back to the 1920s, when leopard print became a symbol of style.  By 1947, Christian Dior had presented a new way to wear leopard, using the print in his collections and setting off a trend that would last for decades. During the 1960s, the eye-catching print was a staple of avant-garde fashion houses such as Balmain.

Leopard remained popular throughout the 1970s and 80s, typifying the glamourous and excessive style of the time, with designers like Roberto Cavalli and Christian Lacroix repeatedly using it as inspiration for their designs. In the 1990s, popular Italian fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana became known for its feminine, Dolce Vita-inspired collections which, once again, championed leopard print as a style staple.

Many South African fashion icons are also champions of leopard print. One prime example is womenswear designer Marianne Fassler, who operates, fittingly, under the name “Leopard Frock”. Based out of her workshop in Johannesburg, Fassler has shown her collections at numerous Mercedes Benz fashion weeks across South Africa and is famous for her off the peg and bespoke designs, many of which feature her signature leopard print in one form or another.

Leopard Print DOs and DON’Ts

DO spice up an everyday look with leopard print. Whether it’s a leopard print jacket, blouse, bag or shoes, this exotic print adds a lively edge to even the simplest ensemble.


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DO experiment with clashing prints. For maximum fashion points, be inspired by Dolce & Gabbana and pair a leopard print piece with a clashing print such as polka dots or stripes.


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DO stick to elegant silhouettes and shapes for a sophisticated impact. Keep it chic by opting for feminine, figure skimming designs.


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DON’T be afraid to try out leopard prints in different colours. Leopard print has long been a symbol of fun and irreverence. Up the ante by wearing the print in a variety of colours.


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Discover Red Carnation’s signature leopard print style at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa The Montague on the Gardens, The Duke of Richmond Hotel, Hotel d’Angleterre, Chesterfield Palm Beach and bbar and restaurant

Image Credits: Lead image © Marianne Fassler. All other images © Instagram/houseofleopard

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