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International Tiger Day 2021: Perceptions Around Tiger And Leopard-Patterned Outfits


Clothes are a reflection of psychology and perception. If you wear a dress made out of billowing fabric, say chiffon, it quite simply shows femininity, whereas latex fabric can be viewed as street-style glamorous because of the edgy touch and luxuriant sheen of the fabric. However, there are certain trends and style, which are as divisive as they can get in terms of how one may perceive it. Tiger and animal prints are one such trend, which has become evergreen and has been exploited in popular culture and cinema. While one may not associate with these animal-based patterns, one can't help noticing it - so, what is it about tiger and animal prints, which makes these patterns stand out and how has been the portrayal around these patterns? On the International Tiger Day, let's explore animal patterns.

When we talk about tiger and leopard prints specifically, the history has it that these prints were popularised by the Gods, royals and nobles. For instance, it is believed that the Hindu God Lord Shiva, killed the tiger and tore the animal's skin to cover his body. It is said that such a step symbolically showed power and control over a powerful animal. The pattern exudes dominance, which is where these patterns were popular among wealthy. The fur trend was quite a rage in the 1800s. The Tsars of Russia wore furs and even men such as John Jacob Astor became millionaire because of fur trade. The French House of Paquin designed fur clothes and adopted techniques, which made their fur outfits more comfortable and softer. Wearing animal fur was considered powerful and highlighted the status symbol. However, the animal fur was elitist and the other downside of the fur was the practice of inhumane scraping of animal skin, which led to the subsequent downfall of animal fur trend. The alternative of animal fur is faux fur and now that's what eco-conscious people wear.

Picture Source: Instagram

Apart from power and status, the animal patterns particularly the tiger and leopards, personified women, who held important positions. For example, the Egyptian princess, Nefertiabet is famous for her one-shouldered leopard-patterned attire. The tiger and leopard animal prints because of their dramatic patterns and bold hues of yellow and black, made for a theatrical appearance. These patterns could have also been an important element for women, who wanted to give back to the societal conventions. Tigers are believed as animals who prefer solitude and so these patterns are often reflective of women's position in patriarchal world and a message that they can lead an independent lifestyle. A woman flaunting leopard and tiger-patterned outfit would certainly have the attention of onlookers, be it in any space and while exotic, these patterns can often carve out an intimidating and upfront personality.

Picture Source: Etsy

However, it's not just power, wealth, and articulation of women empowerment in a way that the tiger patterns often highlight but also somewhere, these patterns were sexualized and often became synonymous with femme fatale. Additionally, these prints also got associated with cave women. For instance, Jane from Tarzan and Jane and Xena: The Warrior Princess flaunted tiger and leopard patterns, which mirrored their surroundings but their outfits had a risqué touch. In the movie, The Graduate, Mrs. Robinson wore a leopard-print underwear, which showed her as a woman unapologetic about her sexuality. However, with leopard and tiger patterns slowly seen as seductive patterns, they gained an unhealthy reputation and some even say that these patterns went from power and regal to slinky and vulgar. But then it is a matter of perception - tiger prints are a journey of upper-class hierarchies to a symbol of liberation, irrespective of any class and creed.

So, on the International Tiger Day 2021, what is your perception around tiger and leopard patterns? Let us know that.

Story first published: Thursday, July 29, 2021, 21:26 [IST]