Growing up wild — by Danielle Taheny
The most important day of my life! Well, that really depends on how the rest of my life goes. If this day does turn out to be the most important day of my life, I might as well give up now! But needless to say, it is a day that a girl remembers. It will be a day that my father will take numerous embarrassing photographs that I will desperately try to hide from any potential Mr. Rights in the future. So with the certainty that this day will be documented and will forever live in photographic history, it all comes down to the question ‘what the HELL am I going to wear?’
Of course I wanted to wear something classy, sophisticated and that screamed ‘watch out world here I come’. I wanted to feel confident and fabulous. There was only one answer. Leopard Print.
So it’s not exactly Jackie’O or Michelle Obama and perhaps a graduation from University calls for something a little more conservative, but I just couldn’t see myself in an all black, knee length dress just blending into the crowd. Oh God, I just shudder at the thought of BLENDING!
You see, me and leopard print have a history, a long and complicated past. Call it a love affair if you will, but love is what it is. It was in fact love at first sight.
I first got my little paws on a faux fur, leopard print coat at the tender age of four. It was a gift from my mother’s eccentric best friend, ‘aunty’ Mary we called her. We saw her once a year and she always came baring gifts from a magical land called America, which seemed to be filled with ridiculous clothes for four year olds. Such was this deliciously soft leopard coat with a silky red lining. But in her words, ‘I think every four year old should have a little bit of glamour in their lives.’ I have never heard a truer statement uttered since.
At preschool, the other girls ooh and ahhed over my luxurious new coat while we sipped on orange juice and nibbled on homemade sandwiches. I was a social and fashion success. From then on I was known as the fashionable one. It was a title I wore with honour and pride.
As I progressed from preschool to primary school my leopard fetish continued to grow thanks to the 1990s pop explosion of five girls from England. ‘I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.’ That’s right; the Spice girls.
I had leopard print trimmed jackets, skirts, shoes, underwear and even a leopard print bathing suit. Although I had more of a thing for Posh Spice I will admit that my obsession for leopard print lead me to looking a little more of the Scary persuasion.
Fast-forward to the present day and a recent encounter with an old college classmate further cemented leopard print as part of my fashion identity. ‘My God I’ll never forget that leopard print dress!’ Ok, so these may have been the words of a leering and very drunk man but it confirms the power of leopard print and is perhaps the reason why I love it so much. After three years together, everyday in a classroom, the only thing he remembered was me in a slightly (only slightly mind) provocative Dolce & Gabbana number. In retrospect a straight jacket would have probably been more comfortable, but then again who needs to be able to eat, sit down or even breathe when one can look ‘sexy’. Not to mention the fact that, at least in Ireland, to be ‘sexy’ is a sin (along with missing Mass on a Sunday, burning the potatoes and being sober).
It’s not rocket science and I never was very good at maths but man plus woman in tight fitting animal print dress equals… well lets say… a very strong reaction. I guess this where it all gets a little bit National Geographic. I am talking about the whole Caveman Cavewoman theory. The running around in animal skins not unlike the animals they hunted and killed. It’s all very Tarzan and Jane. It seems it only takes a flash of leopard print to ignite some kind of primitive instinct and to reduce our modern day, moisturized man to his primitive hunter-gatherer beginnings.
And so it seemed like the appropriate choice for my graduation from University. Of course I did intend to classy it up a bit. The dress fell to just above my knee, had long sleeves and a high neckline. The leopard did all the work. Even being completely covered up I felt conservative but not boring, exactly what I wanted. At least when I look back at the photos thirty years from now I won’t be completely mortified because somehow I have the feeling I will still be strutting around in some piece of leopard. Not that I plan on being that mutton dressed as lamb older lady squeezed into a leopard number, but hey then again it could be fun!
However there are those certain important days when I must control this fetish and force myself to abstain, because the thought of a leopard print wedding dress does not bode well. Though I am sure our dear friend Roberto Cavalli could whip up something fabulous!
Perhaps on a more morbid note I would like to be buried in something leopard. For me it expresses my person style, classy yet with an edge. Something that cries screw you world I am going to have fun no matter how serious life gets. For me everyone should have that one piece of clothing that makes them feel a little more wild, a little more free, a little more MEOOOWWWWWW……
Proposed by Daniel Wakahisa on Wednesday 23 February 2011 at 12:19 PM