Here To Slay: A Red Carpet Retrospective In Fifty Shades Of Leopard

Produced in association with myPlates.

TBH, if you haven’t experimented with leopard print by this point you haven’t really lived, and chances are you likely won’t.

A red carpet staple for the ages, today we’re taking the divisive print and running with it for a #tbt red carpet retrospective of the entirety of human history [the last ten years], arriving right on time for that period of the afternoon when your productivity has started to wane and my second warning for this month’s outstanding phone bill has just made itself apparent. 
But first – more importantly than any other issue we could be discussing right now – what kind of person dares to wear leopard on the red carpet? 
She’s a woman (64 pages of Getty Images archives generally don’t lie) who isn’t afraid of taking risks. She’s often a repeat customer (see: Reese Witherspoon). She’s ballsy as hell and thrives on Drama with a capital D. 
She’s a Helen Mirren in the boardroom, a Nicki Minaj at karaoke, and any of the Kardashians where it counts [an unfettered joie de vivre]. She’s also literally every woman* who made a red carpet appearance in 2011.
In celebration of a print nonpareil and the women who wield it, here are the unequivocal highs and lows of leopard flavoured red carpet appearances from the last decade, beginning with the year time forgot: 2004.

2004 HIGH

Sorry in advance for getting the ball rolling on what is undoubtedly a sad note, but Brittany Murphy’s dramatic leopard coat with strong lapel and shoulder game paired with sweetheart accessories is the epitome of ~glamorous~ red carpet styling circa 2004. A more innocent time if ever there were one (I checked, and there isn’t).
Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images.

2004 LOW

On a scale of ‘I cannot even’ [1] to ‘I literally won’t’ [10], approximately how much are you unable to deal with Angelina Jolie’s leopard trench, paired with hoop earrings, cherry red winklepickers and a flared jean? About a 10? Cool, me too.

Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images.

2005 HIGH

At future congressional hearings [plural] into why Gwen Stefani has failed to age a day since October 3rd 1987, this photo will be used as one of many pieces of substantiating evidence in all our opening statements. A+
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.

2005 LOW

Have you ever read a more underwhelming sentence than “Actress Phoebe Price attends Showtime’s The L-World second season premiere.” 
Heads up: no you haven’t, nor will you likely again. 
Cherish this moment. Hold it close (but not that close).
Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images.

2006 HIGH

If you hold up your thumb over Gavin Rossdale from the neck down, everything else about this photo is aspirational.
Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images.

2006 LOW

Rihanna’s belt. 
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.

2007 HIGH

Can you believe Rihanna has been kicking around for almost ten years?
Pre-‘Umbrella’ Rihanna – or Bad Gal RiRi as we know her now – was a study in aggressive contrasts; that is, the contrast between the manifold shades of brown that combine to form a print the colour of a flayed leopard pelt. 
Old Robyn Fenty really, really loved leopard.
Calling the below garment a ‘HIGH’ is perhaps a bit of a stretch if we’re being honest with each other, but you have to give credit where credit’s due with this body-con column gown she wore to attend the 2007 Bambi Awards, though only if you’re in the habit of making exceptions for the Flower streak in her hair. 
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

2007 LOW

You could compile an entire gallery – no, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a corresponding gala – comprised of nothing but Paris Hilton’s leopard ensembles. 
To have only included two here was a feat requiring considerable restraint. This 2007 MTV VMA ensemble warrants inclusion for embodying the year that was 2007 in a single frame: the pose, the cockeyed smirk, the opulence, the artifice. Do you love it?
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

2008 HIGH

Remember that one time when your hall pass, Natalie Portman, wore a romper cut from fabric dyed in the pattern of an animal’s skin to launch her vegan shoe range, Te Casan
Remember Natalie Portman’s vegan shoe range? Miss you, 2008.
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.


Cheryl Cole’s heinous fedora. 
Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.

2009 HIGH

Real talk: Chloë Sevigny is the only human whose name you could append to the sequence of words ‘tan scalloped hem short suit worn by’ to make it not only okay but also a viable option for your next public appearance. 
Note the benefits of leopard when it’s used not as an entire language, but as an accent. 
Therein lies the secret.
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images.

2009 LOW

No, really, take your pick. This one’s on you.
Frazer Harrison; Gareth Cattermole via Getty.
Astrid Stawiarz; Gareth Cattermole.
Frazer Harrison; Bryan Bedder for IMG via Getty.

2010 LOW

Though it pains me to associate Dame Helen Mirren with a low point of any kind, this cobalt blue leopard print wrap dress with Fendi logo overlay is – well, it would sadden me if any of this meant anything. 
Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

2010 HIGH

Anna Paquin’s sequinned cocktail dress, worn to a chill party at Valentino’s place, no big deal, is bangerz and a prime example of welding leopard print’s considerable powers for the greater good. 
That’s not hyperbole.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

2011 LOW

It’s a threeway tie! That seems appropriate. 
Congratulations, Kim Kardashian, Laura Dundovic and Kris Jenner.
Photo by Scott Barbour; Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

2011 HIGH

Zoe Saldana is unfairly beautiful and regularly takes life-and-death red carpet risks. More often than not, they pay off with rewards as bounteous as they are inconsequential. 
Case in point, this lace and leopard Dolce & Gabbana pastiche party dress. Cute A.F. 
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

2012 LOW

It’s another tie! Congratulations, Reese Mazzin’ and Adam Lambert for – excuse the expression – going balls to the wall and experimenting with both leopard print and eschewing their better judgement in favour of a better world for us all. Bless.
Photo by Lisa Maree William; Christopher Polk.

2012 HIGH

Jason DeRulo knows what’s up.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for CFN.


See what I did with the ‘every woman‘ thing from before? *Chaka Freakin’ Khan, ladies and gentlemen.  
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Heart Truth.

2013 LOW

From [our] left to right, you can almost read on the faces of these red carpet onlookers the Seven Stages of Grieving Katy Perry’s Mugler situation from the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. 
First, there’s ‘Hmm‘, followed by ‘Oh‘, and ‘Ugh‘; then its ‘Okay, I see what you’re going for, kind of‘, which quickly segues into ‘*Laughter through pursed lips*‘, before climaxing at ‘Who, me?‘ and finishing itself off with ‘Oh, okay, if you insist *mean mugs for camera*.’
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for MTV.

2013 HIGH

Sky Ferreira cares not for conventional glamour and that’s why she’s still the best person to wear leopard on a red carpet in 2013. Bye, haters.
Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images.

2014 HEY

Heidi Klum’s all like ‘Guten tag, tot leoparden körpersack!‘ 
You can Google that in your own time.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.


America Ferrera has had such a hard time on red carpets of late that I can’t bring myself to say anything untoward about her inoffensive leopard gown. 
I mean, ‘inoffensive’ is really high praise in and of itself when it comes to a floor-length print gown and that’s going to have to do.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
To cap things off, let’s anoint our (read: ‘my’) all time least favourite and actual favourite leopard looks from the last ten years. 
First things first. If I told you this was the most SFW image of Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Bruno on the red carpet at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards a) I would not be lying and b) you’d have to believe me anyway because what are you going to do, conduct an independent investigation? 
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty.


My anaconda can’t.
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy.
*If you’re mad for all-spot-everything, myPlates are giving away a set of *personalised* leopard number plates. You can go into the running to win those here. Nice segue, right? This competition is only open to NSW residents aged 17+ and ends 11:59pm AEDT on 14/12/2014.

Lead Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy