Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zoo Prints (1959)

Good morning!

Guys, thank you and THANK YOU for all your kind comments about my new couch set yesterday-- do you know you just made my day?

My new position on any and all leopard print, in  photo montage form.
While the possible ice storm last night kept me from being able to do much in terms of moving furniture (the behemoth of an antique sofa really has to go before anything else is accomplished), Matthew and I sat on the couches last night and he very patiently listened to me wax on poetic, wax off poetic about all the things I was going to accomplish with that room before the weekend was out. My big thing now is SPACE, SPACE, SPACE-- but I think some well-thought-out editing in the furniture department and, uh, lamp distribution equation ( I'm just saying MAYBE... four base lamps and a floor lamp is a *little much* for one room...I told you the den was a catchall!) will make a crazy big difference in the room. Did you ever see what it looked like before the first big change or two? (That couch, if you're wondering, has been gone with the wind after a series of tragic accidents...RIP blue sixties' couch of my former dreams...RIP). We need some kind of new floor covering, be it tile or carpet (the old still has two weird iron-shaped burn marks from the previous tenants ironing on the floor...I think they're hilarious, but maybe it's time we upgraded) and to rethink the lamp situation, but the leopard print center piece of the room has got me so charged up on the future of that room that I'm not even discouraged by these future hurdles. We'll clear 'em with room to spare!

Anyway, enough about couches-- on to today's post! Which is only semi-sorta couch related! :)

While looking through Google books for mentions of animal prints, I came across this 1959 Life magazine spread about animal inspired high fashion ensembles, and it was just too cute to resist. Having once drawn stripes in Bic pen all over my teeny face and limbs as a pre-schooler in the vain attempt to look more like a zebra (I expressed this desire to my mother at the time, who was less than impressed with her ink stained BUT CREATIVE four year old's zoological, pen-based ministrations), I was charmed at first sight by this stripe coat and red (!!adorable!!) toque hat. It icked me out a little to learn that this is a real, made from the hide of a zebra, zebra fur coat, but in less enlightened times, I guess any four legged creature with a pretty pelt was kind of fair game. At least the $1,500 price tag ($11,413.44 in 2011 dollars) probably kept more than a few buyers from pulling the trigger on it. Can you see that poor zebra in the background going "Zeke? Is that you, Zeke? Hey, don't those markings look kind of like Zeke to you?" :(

Now! Camel hair, unlike a pelt, "comes only from two hump camels, which never have to be shorn because their hair falls out naturally," consoles the text accompanying the above picture. Phew! Thank goodness. The camel in the background has nothing to fear here. I used to have a great coat very similar to this with a label that featured a large, embroidered camel, and the wavy exultation "100% CAMEL HAIR" in all caps just above him. Now I feel my conscience is less heavy for having had that coat. I almost bought an imitation camel hair coat this weekend at a Goodwill in Murfreesboro, but unlike the one shown above, many of them have no buttons and a large, tie belt for closure-- unless you're Faye Dunaway, this always looks too much like a bathrobe to me! So I let it lay.

If I saw a reasonable  facsimile of any of the three dresses above and below, however, you bet your Bocephus I would have had to take it home with me. Yeeks! How chic! I particularly like the Diana Vreeland like bubble cut and smoky eye on the peacock model, widow's peakless. At first I thought it was a hat, but I'm pretty sure it's her hair! Do you see the confection of a skirt in the ostrich panel below? That skirt is entirely made of ostrich feathers! Talk about making an impression.

This coat is not actually made of bear, but of "Orlon". Which is not the name of a character in a Boris Karloff movie, but rather, a synthetic material of the late fifties'. I don't much like the buttons on this, but to each their own. That polar bear in the background is AWESOME.

One of the most modern looking ensembles is this matching coat and umbrella in giraffe print. If I saw this at the thrift store (please let me see this at the thrift store in my near future), I don't know that I would immediately spot it as vintage! The material is "waterproofed pure silk" (be still my beating heart).

Cheetah print is different than leopard print! Did you know? A cheetah has solid spots, where a leopard has kind of perforated spots. There's an adorable people-on-the-street clip from a Kenyan news channel about whether or not the average Kenyan citizen can identify a leopard from a cheetah (Kenyan news, in general, trumps our news by virtue of beautiful, beautiful accents and WEIRD, WEIRD human interest stories), and this is the principle difference! Still, I want that cheetah print jacket, in a bad way. I have a weakness for spots!! Also, is that angry little cheetah at bottom not the real star of this photo? Look at his eyes!

Last but not least, this coat is gorgeous, but I love how the panther on the left snuck up on me. I went "Where is the corresponding animal in this-- OH LORD." Good thing I wasn't there in real life, I would have jumped out of my own skin.

Fun fact: the Life photographer who covered this event, Gordon Parks, did a lot of notable work around the magazine from 1948-1968 as a staff photographer (including this famous picture), and went on to direct Shaft, Shaft's Big Score, and a number of other major motion pictures. The more you know!

Which one of these outfits do you covet the most? Do you have a particular animal print that you secretly can't get enough of? If you had to draw fashion inspiration from one animal, what would it be?

That's all for today, kids! See you tomorrow!


  1. I'm not the biggest fan of wearing all-over animal prints (although I did have a pair of leopard-print kitten heels once that were amazing) because I'm afraid of being taken for game by all these hunters in Kansas. I do love fur, though. Adore the last photo to bits.

    1. Haha, it's rough all over out on the plains! I think my favorite snap is the cheetah going "So's Your Old Man!" to the camera with his devil may care expression.

  2. Yes, yes, yes! I need many leopard faux fur cushions for my new red velvet brothel sofa. I am CHARTREUSE with envy over your amazing new furniture! Sarah xxx

    1. You had me at "new red velvet brothel sofa" sounds like both of us have had some pretty good recent finds in the furniture department, huh! :)

  3. Is it wrong of me to hope you find a magnificent leopard print rug to match your magnificent leopard print couch?

    I covet the zebra coat, the feather skirt and the cheetah jacket so very, very much. And I'd so love to wear the skirt with the zebra coat!

    1. No way! I'm as-we-speak trying to "jungle room" ify the den to its maximum potential. Print on print is never a bad thing in my book. Will let you know how it turns out!

      And LAWD YES on the zebra and feathers idea. Sometimes too much is not enough! I love it!

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  5. That is the couch of dreams, love it! :) Fun post!

    1. Thanks, Van! If it doesn't kill me, redecorating that room will make me stronger!



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