Loving Leopard

Vegas in the 50's? No. 
Bergdorf Goodman's November 2011 ad.
 3.1 Phillip Lim Leopard Jump Suit and Guiseppi Zanotti platforms.

Love of Leopard.

A fashion LOLer can indulge, go all in. It's dramatic, thrilling.

LOL in decor is a thrill too. Leopard adds sass, glamour, a punch of pattern along with the drama but with a caveat. Do not go all in! Nothing moves from posh to passé faster than "too much leopard", and cheap leopard never transcends cheesy cliche.

1960 Lumar Plastic Sunglasses. Cheesy or Classic?

I am a fairly recent LOLer. Growing up in the conservative Midwest, I was indoctrinated with many an odd dictum, one of which was leopard print decor is strictly reserved for B and B's (brothels and boudoirs; boudoir: the domicile of wayward starlets and risqué single women who, lest they mend their ways, would soon reside in a brothel). Decades elapsed before this brainwash went swirling down the drain!

There might be some readers with no such childhood experience coloring their objectivity but just think leopard is limiting, too wild, the cliche best avoided. Au contraire and here are fine examples of leopard tastefully leaping from style to style with zero B and B factor and not a whiff of cheese. 

Let's start with Elsie de Wolfe and her love of French glamour and luxury. The above pic is from Elsie's second home, Villa Triannon, in Versailles. A few pillows and a couple leopard ottomans are perfect for the size and scale of this room.

This paragraph is not required reading but it is relevant: Elsie de Wolfe launched her decorating career in 1905 (yes, 107 years ago). She introduced America to chintz, chinoiserie, stripes, treillage, as many mirrors as possible and animal prints, to name a few. Leopard was high on her favorites list. All this at a time when American taste was dark, heavy Victoriana. Born in 1865, Elsie was America's first woman decorator. We owe her far more than the tasteful application of leopard print.

George Cameron Nash's Dallas apartment. Rose Tarlow silk velvet on the chair. Veranda

Back to the present. Here leopard is urbane, sophisticated, witty. George Cameron Nash's apartment. I love the balance created by the leopard print chair and the art. Tufting the chaise subtly echoes the spots. If the pillow were leopard, that would be "too much leopard". As it is, Mr. Nash struck the perfect balance. This room is an excellent example of mixing modern and traditional classic.

Charles Spada's house in Normandy. Veranda
Old world grace. Boston's Charles Spada's beautiful, beautiful home in Normandy. The silk velvet leopard on the canapé arms show some wear, hallmarks of authentic patina of age. I love this room. I love this house. I never thought I'd love a gray wall, I love this one. Fine example of never say never.

Alberto Pinto's Rio de Janiero apartment. Architectural Digest
Modern, contemporary, fun. Here leopard plays the pattern role without upstaging the stellar art work. The leopard pillows echo the strawberry seeds in the painting and pick up the gold in the rug. Alberto Pinto's home in Rio de Janiero. Great example of letting the art work have the starring role.

Where are you on the LOL decorating scale? Leopard is definitely appearing in my living room's next reincarnation.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

if you'd like design help, with or without leopards, send me an email!


  1. Absolutely love leopard - On almost any scale.

  2. It is so true, I think there are still a lot of people who "can't do leopard".
    That's okay. More for me :)


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