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Pan Wearing an Animal Skin

Pan Wearing an Animal Skin

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The 13 Most Terrifying Serial Killers Ever

There's no doubt about it: We have a grotesque fascination with anything macabre. That's why serial killers are considered both horrendous and deeply fascinating. We can't help but want to learn more about these disturbed individuals — or at the very least, once they've caught our attention, we can't look away. But there are a crop of serial killers who stand out above the rest, thanks to the heinous and prolific nature of their crimes. They were so brutal and twisted that they will go down as the most terrifying serial killers in history. (I know that you want to know more.)

A "serial killer" is officially defined as someone who kills three or more people, but spread out over time. So claiming three victims all in one go does not earn you the title of a serial killer — that just makes you a spree slayer. (Look, please don't do any of this.) Serial killers are also often characterized by their seemingly normal facades which suggests them to be regular, law-abiding citizens — which contrasts sharply with the ghastly nature of their murders, adding fodder for our sick minds.

The behavior exhibited by serial killers range from the atrocious (sexually assaulting victims before killing them) to the nightmarish (cannibalizing victims' bodies) to the absolutely unimaginable (doing all of that in a clown suit). Prepare to feel tingles in your spine, but don't even bother trying to look away. Here are 13 of the most terrifying serial killers in history.

John Wayne Gacy

I know you haven't forgotten that clown image, and you likely never will. The man behind that story is John Wayne Gacy, who was known as "The Killer Clown." A husband and father, Gacy was first arrested after being caught sexually assaulting two teenage boys in 1968, and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. But because he behaved behind bars, he was released after only 18 months, proving that the U.S. legal and criminal system was severely lacking at the time.

After he was released, Gacy became a popular member of his community as Pogo the Clown, and regularly visited children's parties and events. Had he reformed? Not a chance. Over the next six years, he would kidnap, rape, torture, and brutally murder 33 boys. He received the death penalty for his crimes in 1994, but he probably should have never left jail the first time.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer's name is pretty much synonymous with cannibalism. The killer is notorious for dismembering and eating his victims after killing them. Oh, and he was also reportedly a necrophiliac. As if hearing about Dahmer's activities wasn't scary enough, they had to go and make a movie about him starring a creepy and convincing Jeremy Renner. The film even depicted how Dahmer would drill a hole in his victims' heads to try and create zombie-like sex slaves out of them — something that can't be unseen.

Jack The Ripper

In the late 19th century, an unidentified serial killer stalked London, gruesomely killing female prostitutes by slitting their throats and abdomens — often taking their internal organs. Someone trying to claim credit for the murders called himself "Jack the Ripper" in a letter, and the name has stuck ever since. I mean, it is pretty fitting.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy perfectly fits the profile of the normal (even good-looking) guy who moonlights as a sadist. Between 1974 and 1978, Bundy kidnapped and murdered at least 30 women (those were just the ones he confessed to, or who police found). The clever and cruel Bundy would pretend to be disabled or an authority figure to lure unsuspecting victims into his trap. He would then rape, torture, kill, and dismember them. Just because you're evil and murderous doesn't mean you can't be sentimental — Bundy kept the severed heads of his victims as keepsakes.

Aileen Wuornos

Arguably the most well-known female serial killer of all time, Wuornos killed at least seven men when she was working as a prostitute between 1989 and 1990. Wuornos gained even more infamy when Charlize Theron completely transformed herself to portray her in the 2003 film Monster — a role that won her the Best Actress Oscar. The film came out one year after Wuornos was executed via lethal injection.

Henry Lee Lucas

Another product of a flawed criminal justice system, Henry Lee Lucas was released from prison after killing his own mother due to overcrowding. He would then go on to kill at least 350 people over 20 years, though he claims to have been involved in roughly 600 murders.

Ed Gein

Though Ed Gein's victim count is pretty low compared to some of the other people on this list — he was only found guilty of two murders — the absolutely sick nature of his crimes make him one of the most notorious serial killers in history. After his mother died, Gein began digging up women who resembled her from the cemetery and fashioning together a suit out of their skins. Later on, police discovered a veritable museum of body parts in his home, featuring furniture upholstered with human flesh, skull bowls, and even a belt made of human nipples.

Gein is said to have inspired three very notorious fictional characters: Norman Bates of Psycho, Buffalo Bill of The Silence of the Lambs, and Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Andrei Chikatilo

Andrei Chikatilo was born in Ukraine, but would become known as the "Butcher of Rostov" after being found guilty of killing at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990. He later revealed in an interview that he could only experience sexual satisfaction when stabbing a woman or child, which he discovered with his first documented victim — a nine-year-old girl.

Gary Ridgway

Known as the "Green River Killer," Gary Ridgway was convicted of 49 murders, making him the most prolific American serial killer (based on confirmed killings). In the 1980s and 1990s, Ridgway would lure women and girls close by showing them a picture of his son, and then strangle them, before throwing their bodies into the Green River in Washington state.

Pedro Lopez

Colombian-born Pedro Lopez was accused of raping and killing more than 300 girls throughout South America (in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador), which earned him the nickname "Monster of the Andes." In 1980, Lopez led police to the grave of 59 of his victims, who were all girls between the ages of nine and 12. Yet somehow, he was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1998 on good behavior, and he remains at large to this day. Terrific.

David Berkowitz

Better known as the "Son of Sam," Berkowitz terrorized New York City from the summer of 1976 to the summer of 1977, killing six people and wounding seven others with a .44 caliber revolver. After his shootings, he would send letters to the police, taunting them and promising more victims. When he was finally caught and indicted on eight shootings, Berkowitz claimed that he was obeying orders from his neighbor Sam's dog, Harvey, which he said was a demon.

Dennis Rader

Another fan of sending mocking notes to law enforcement was Dennis Rader, who killed at least 10 people between 1974 and 1991 in and around Wichita, Kansas. Known as the "BTK (Bind, Torture, and Kill) Killer," Rader led police to his own capture by sending them a floppy disk that contained crucial evidence. Unfortunately, Rader's campaign for notoriety worked, since we're still talking about him to this day.

Richard Trenton Chase

If your stomach hasn't turned yet, then it will now with Richard Trenton Chase's story. Known as the "Vampire of Sacramento," Chase began by drinking the blood of small animals, like rabbits and birds — sometimes blending their organs with Coca-Cola to make a totally disgusting concoction.

After being released from a mental institution, Chase moved on to human targets. He engaged in both necrophilia and cannibalism with his victims, often dismembering them and drinking their blood. Over the course of one month in 1977, Chase killed six people in California, and was caught when he murdered an entire family in 1979. Later that year, Chase was sentenced to death, but beat the system by committing suicide in his cell a year later.


Natural lambskin condoms are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an effective means of preventing pregnancy. Lambskin condoms are just as effective for contraception as other types of condoms and are used the same way. With perfect use, lambskin condoms are 98 percent effective,   and they're 82 percent effective with typical use.

This means that, with perfect use, for every 100 women whose partners use lambskin condoms for one year, two will become pregnant and 18 with typical use.   Even though lambskin condoms have tiny pores, they are too small for sperm to pass through. Like all condoms, they keep sperm where it should be, inside of the condom.

Unlike other condoms, lambskin condoms are not effective in preventing sexually transmitted infections as the natural pores in them are large enough for bacteria (like gonorrhea) and viruses (like HIV) to pass through.

Modern leather making

The modern commercial leather-making process involves three basic phases: preparation for tanning, tanning, and processing tanned leather. As a preliminary step, a hide must be carefully skinned and protected both in storage and transportation before reaching the tannery. A hide will begin to decompose within hours of an animal’s death to prevent this from happening, the hide is cured by a dehydrating process that involves either air-drying, wet or dry salting, or pickling with acids and salts before being shipped to a tannery.

At the tannery the hide is soaked to remove all water-soluble materials and restore it to its original shape and softness. Hair is loosened usually by a process called liming, accomplished by immersing the hides in a mixture of lime and water the hair and extraneous flesh and tissue are removed by machine. The hide is then washed, delimed, bated (the enzymatic removal of nonfibrous protein to enhance colour and suppleness), and pickled (to provide a final cleansing and softening).

The tanning process derives its name from tannin (tannic acid), the agent that displaces water from the interstices of the hide’s protein fibres and cements these fibres together. Vegetable tanning, which is the oldest of tanning methods, is still important. Extracts are taken from the parts of plants (such as the roots, bark, leaves, and seed husks) that are rich in tannin. The extracted material is processed into tanning liquors, and the hides are soaked in vats or drums of increasingly strong liquor until they are sufficiently tanned. The various vegetable tanning procedures can take weeks or months to complete. The end result is a firm water-resistant leather.

Mineral tanning, which uses mineral salts, produces a soft, pliable leather and is the preferred method for producing most light leathers. Use of this method can shorten the tanning period to days or even hours. Chromium salt is the most widely used mineral agent, but salts from aluminum and zirconium are also used. In mineral tanning the hides are soaked in saline baths of increasing strength or in acidic baths in which chemical reactions deposit salts in the skin fibres.

Oil tanning is an old method in which fish oil or other oil and fatty substances are stocked, or pounded, into dried hide until they have replaced the natural moisture of the original skin. Oil tanning is used principally to make chamois leather, a soft porous leather that can be repeatedly wetted and dried without damage. A wide variety of synthetic tanning agents (or syntans), derived from phenols and hydrocarbons, are also used.

After the basic tanning process is completed, the pelts are ready for processing, the final phase in leather production. The tanned pelt is first thoroughly dried and then dyed to give it the appropriate colour common methods include drum dyeing, spraying, brush dyeing, and staining. Blended oils and greases are then incorporated into the leather to lubricate it and to enhance its softness, strength, and ability to shed water.

The leather is then dried to about 14 percent moisture, either in the air or in a drying tunnel or by first stretching the leather and then air or tunnel drying it. Other less frequently used methods include paste and vacuum drying. The dried leather is finished by reconditioning with damp sawdust to a uniform moisture content of 20 percent. It is then stretched and softened, and the grain surface is coated to give it additional resistance to abrasion, cracking, peeling, water, heat, and cold.

The leather is then ready to be fashioned into any of a multitude of products. These include shoes and boots, outer apparel, belts, upholstery materials, suede products, saddles, gloves, luggage and purses, and recreational equipment as well as such industrial items as buffing wheels and machine belts.

The Trashy, Expensive, Contradictory Reputation of Leopard Print

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I’m hardly to the first person to proclaim that leopard is a neutral. The black-and-tan pattern looks great with almost any color palette — jewel tones, neons, black, camel. It can be dressed up or down, it flatters every skin tone, and it pops up on runways so often that it hardly seems fair to call it a trend.

And yet, what leopard conveys in Western fashion is highly mutable — especially when it comes to signifying class.

Think about Jackie Kennedy’s leopard-print Oleg Cassini coat, or Bob Dylan singing about Edie Sedgwick’s “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Consider Diane von Furstenberg’s office-friendly leopard-print wrap dresses. All of these images evoke a kind of old-money femininity bolstered by the kind of unimpeachable confidence that comes from having a great investment portfolio.

Diane Von Furstenburg (center) in a leopard-print wrap dress, with Andy Warhol (left) and Monique Van Vooren (right). Photo: Tim Boxer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But leopard print is also a signal of poor taste and of “trashiness,” which really means that it represents the sexually available lower-class woman. Picture Peg Bundy in leopard-print spandex on Married. with Children, or Fran Drescher in a tiny leopard-print mini skirt on The Nanny, or Lil’ Kim squatting with her legs spread in that infamous 1996 promotional photo, her crotch barely covered by a leopard-print thong. Peg Bundy is a low-class sybarite, but Fran Drescher and Lil’ Kim are cut from a different (sorry) cloth. They are not content to stay in Queens and Brooklyn, respectively. They are women on the move, using their wits and sexuality to slink into lives of luxury.

While talking about leopard print, I would be remiss to ignore the pattern’s true progenitors: actual leopards.

“If you’re being a nerd, leopards don’t really have spots,” Craig Saffoe, the curator of Great Cats at the National Zoo in Washington says. “They have what we call a rosette. Leopards have a rosette, cheetahs have spots all over, and jaguars have a rosette with a spot inside.”

Leopards play in Kenya. Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Saffoe speculates that leopards evolved their spots as a form of camouflage to help them hunt.

“What we know about black leopards is that they are found in higher-density, deeper forests. Being solid black in a dark environment would certainly help you conceal yourself,” he says.

Jo Weldon is a burlesque dancer who has spent the past three years researching the history of leopard print for her forthcoming book Fierce: The History of Leopard Print.

“Leopards are independent, they’re adaptable, they’re in every environment,” Weldon says. “They sleep in trees, they can swim in the water, they’re born to single moms. They’re these very powerful, independent, beautiful animals. I think we have a primal identification with the animals.”

Humans have long borrowed from leopards in both fashion and iconography. Usually, this involved killing the animals and wearing their fur or skins. Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, was shown clad in leopard skins. Dionysus, the the Greek god of wine, was associated with the leopard, and was sometimes depicted wearing their fur. The Anatolian goddess Cybele was often depicted near leopards. Leopard fur was prized everywhere the animal lived, and leopard print appeared on textiles used in 18th-century French and Italian clothing.

Lil’ Kim in a leopard-print bikini top. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty

But Weldon says that none of these things explain how leopard fur and leopard print entered mainstream Western fashion. The proliferation of leopard print in particular is mainly due to the rise of the mass production of clothing and the development of synthetic materials.

Before the 1930s, most clothing was made to order, and was relatively expensive. People who were not wealthy had small, functional wardrobes, and were largely shut out of the world of fashion. But in the early 20th century, changes in technology and the economy created cheaper, mass-produced clothing that the middle and lower classes could afford.

“The rise of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements inspired people to use animal motifs and then stylized animal motifs,” Weldon says. “The rise of synthetics made it affordable and accessible.”

Clothing ads in the 1930s promoted velvetine and chenille as affordable alternatives to leopard fur. Around this time, Lanvin made silk and rayon crepe dresses emblazoned with leopard patterns. But leopard print really hit the mainstream in 1947, when Christian Dior included it in his debut “New Look” collection. Dior used leopard not as a fur or a faux fur, but as a print. Fashion critic Alexander Fury at T Magazine called leopard print a “house leitmotif” at Dior, noting that the designer’s muse Mitzah Bricard often wore the pattern.

In the 1950s, the American lingerie brand Vanity Fair began selling leopard-print underwear. Leopard print started showing up regularly in mass-produced lingerie collections, and then in swimwear, contributing to the pattern’s association with female sexuality.

Eartha Kitt in a leopard-print dress and coat. Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Leopard print was a favorite of Eartha Kitt. In one photo — which Weldon cites as an early inspiration for her obsession with the pattern — Kitt wears a leopard coat over a leopard-print dress, and holds a cheetah on a leash. The print seems perfect for Eartha, who embodied feline qualities even before she played Catwoman, and who sang songs about using her feminine wiles to court wealthy men.

In 1962, Jackie Kennedy wore an Oleg Cassini leopard-skin coat. The coat was a sensation, but it caused a spike in demand for real leopard skin, leading to the death of as many as 250,000 leopards. Cassini spent the rest of his life wracked with guilt over the harm he had caused the animal population.

In 1966, the song “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” appeared on Bob Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde. The song was putatively about Edie Sedgwick. I’ve only seen one photo of Edie in leopard print, but it strikes me as something she would wear, as a Mayflower-descendant heiress who found fame in the grimy worlds of ’60s New York counterculture.

Émilie Régnier is a photographer whose 2017 show “From Mobutu to Beyoncé,” at the Bronx Documentary Center, featured a portrait series of people wearing the print. In one photo, an African woman in a leopard-print bikini top clutches her belly on the beach in Gabon. In Texas, Larry the Leopard Man reclines nude on a couch, showing the bluish leopard spots tattooed across nearly every inch of his body.

“People who wear leopard told me they feel beautiful, they feel strong, they feel powerful, they feel sexy,” Régnier says.

Leopard-print boots at the Stuart Weitzman fall/winter 2018 presentation and cocktail party. Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Stuart Weitzman

Régnier says that the idea for the series came to her when she was visiting the Chateau Rouge — a large African market — during an art residency in Paris in the fall of 2014. A woman with a large red afro caught her eye, and Régnier invited her to her studio to be photographed.

“She arrived wearing this beautiful leopard-print boubou,” Régnier says. “A few days after, I happened to be in a party in the Rive Gauche and there was this beautiful kind of bourgeois or wealthy blonde, young, mother-like woman wearing leopard. And I was like, okay, from this African neighborhood in Paris to this most bourgeoisie place, leopard is kind of crossing the bridges.”

Régnier stresses that leopard skin has its own separate history in Africa. CIA-funded Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was famous for his leopard-skin cap. And vestments of the the Shembe church in South Africa traditionally included leopard fur, though church leaders switched to faux fur in 2014. To Régnier, leopard has provided a medium for dialogue between African fashion, European haute couture, and streetwear.

“Leopard [has a] sexual or at least eroti[c] connotation, because it was linked to Africa,” Régnier says. “If a woman was wearing leopard, it means that she has a savage or wild sexuality. It became one of the most used prints in haute couture, and from haute couture it became democratized to streetwear, and it went back to the African continent free of its initial symbolism.”

Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko and Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

In the United States, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 banned the importation and sale of leopard skin, which meant that leopard print took over. Despite the law, poaching is still rampant for the purpose of selling leopard skin and parts. Leopards are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as “threatened,” and according to Saffoe, poaching rates are similar to those of tigers.

“We’re going to kill species off if we keep that up,” Saffoe says. “Cats are in a lot of trouble with the amount that they’re being poached.”

By the 1970s in the United States, leopard print had developed associations with the tacky and the tawdry. So it was no surprise that the pattern found many fans in the nascent punk movement. Iggy Pop performed shirtless in leather pants and an unzipped leopard-print jacket. Sid Vicious occasionally wore a leopard-print vest. But it was Poison Ivy from the Cramps who perfected the marriage of leopard print and punk. She matched leopard-print onesies with vinyl go-go boots, shiny red lipstick, and a teased red bouffant, resulting in a sort of nightmare Peggy Bundy effect a decade before Married… with Children hit the airwaves.

Speaking of Peggy Bundy, one trope Weldon kept noticing in her research is that of “the bad mother” who wears leopard.

Anne Bancroft (right) and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios

“The obvious one is Anne Bancroft in The Graduate,” she says. “Then there’s Ann-Margret in Tommy the mother who’s played by Rosalind Russell in Oh Dad, Poor Dad Katherine Helmond in Brazil, where she’s wearing that Schiaparelli-esque cheetah shoe on her head. Peg Bundy. You see over and over, this mother who’s bad because she’s either indulging or repressing sexual power.”

In 1991, leopard was again elevated by Azzedine Alaïa, whose fall/winter collection that year featured supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Nadège du Bospertus in head-to-toe leopard print — corsets, coats, bodysuits, dresses, stiletto boots, berets. The collection was maximalist and crazy, but sexy and sophisticated.

The ’90s marched on. Kurt Cobain famously paired a faux leopard jacket with a ratty T-shirt, a hunting cap, and white bug-eye sunglasses. Scary Spice incorporated leopard print into her costumes. Enid Coleslaw wore a leopard-print mini skirt to visit a sex shop in Ghost World.

Michelle Obama in a sequin leopard-print cardigan.

“People have such strong, strong reactions to it,” Weldon says. “They love it or hate it. Most of the people that I’ve had tell me they hate it, they’ll say something about the kind of woman they think wears it. There’s an association with women who behave badly, usually sexually.”

During the Obama years, Michelle Obama occasionally wore the print — on cardigans, on a sheath dress. She made leopard print approachable something your friend’s cool mom would wear. Sure, there was a nod to Jacqueline Kennedy, and perhaps to Eartha Kitt, but also to the J.Crew of Jenna Lyons, of which the first lady was famously a fan.

“I don’t know if you ever wear leopard,” Régnier says, and I tell her I do. “It’s a print that you wear because you want to project some sort of image to the world. I think we see fashion [as] consumption, but it’s a way to choose second skin. We didn’t choose the skin we are born in, but we can choose the skin we are showing.”

Farming Caimans

For the world’s largest fur auction, at Kopenhagen Fur in Denmark, an assembly line of robots, x-ray machines, vision technology, and a human had sorted 6.8 million pelts, bar-coded to identify the farmer, into 52 different skin types and then into thousands of bidding lots. In the auction room, buyers consulted their catalogs, bantered, and maneuvered for the lots they wanted.

At Kick, an atelier for Kopenhagen Fur, a designer from Beijing named Ran Fan was working with a furrier’s knife to cut a mink pelt, dyed lavender, into a latticework for a lightweight vest. “I love fur,” she said, and so do her customers, often in bright colors and unusual patterns. Chinese consumers now buy almost half the world’s fur products, so she had come to Kick to learn new techniques.

Much of the fur trade’s recovery stems from its strategic wooing of young designers like Fan and, in turn, young customers. The leading fur auction houses began bringing in designers and design students at the height of the antifur movement. The ambition was for all designers to have “flirted with the material” early in their careers, said Julie Maria Iversen of Kopenhagen Fur. The aim has always been to move beyond furrier shops and fur departments, and make fur just another fine fabric, available wherever clothes are sold.

These zealously cultivated relationships have paid off, as designers have learned to use fur in ways conventional furriers never imagined, aided by innovations in dyeing that can produce fur in whatever color happens to be hot this season, from airy blue to green flash. New sewing techniques have also helped, yielding more garment from less fur. Affordability, a word not formerly associated with fur, serves what Iversen called “the fur journey.”

“We start with the young consumer buying a fur key ring, then maybe a little later she has more money for a fur bag,” she said. “Eventually she buys a full coat.” It’s “all part of the agenda, to inspire the upcoming generation of women.”

**Graphic Warning**Leather Made From Human Skin During Slavery Still Being Sold Today!

Human leather skin is still being sold and it’s very expensive to buy products that are made with actual human skin. But where did this concept come from? Slavery. It wasn’t enough that acts of sodomy were committed against slaves or even that they fed Black babies to reptiles.

African slaves were often killed for their skin to make human leather for shoes and clothing. But if you’re Black and celebrate your history, it is fine as long as you don’t mention these practices because there are plenty of stores that exist today that sell products made from human skin.

I remember that two or three years ago I incidentally referred to a prominent physician of this city wearing shoes made from the skin of Negroes. He still adhered to that custom, insisting that the tanned hide of an African makes the most enduring and the most pliable leather known to man.

Be careful of the leather fashion you wear Nubian people. You could be wearing your ancestors as a fashion statement.
HUMAN LEATHER Products Being Sold Online in the U.K.

Only last week I met him upon the street with a brand new pair of shoes. I looked at his foot wear, as I always do – his pedal coverings have an irresistible fascination for me – and said, with a smile:

“Is the down trodden African still beneath your feet?” In the most matter of fact way, and without the shadow of a smile, he answered: “I suppose you mean to inquire if I still wear shoes made of the skin of a negro. I certainly do, and I don’t propose changing in that respect until I find a leather that is softer and will last longer and present a better appearance. I have no sentiment about this matter. Were I a Southerner – in the American sense of the word – I might be accused of being actuated by a race prejudice. But I am a foreigner by birth, although now an American citizen by naturalization. I fought in the rebellion that the blacks might be freed. I would use a white man’s skin for the same purpose if it were sufficiently thick, and if any’ one has a desire to wear my epidermis upon his feet after I have drawn my last breath he has my permission.”

The doctor’s shoes always exhibit a peculiarly rich illustriousness in their blackness. He assures me that they never hurt his feet. The new pair he was using when I last saw him emitted no creaking sound and appeared as comfortable as though they had been worn a month. Their predecessors, he told me, had been in constant use for eight months. He obtains the skins from the bodies of Negroes which have been dissected in one of our big medical colleges. The best leather is obtained from the thighs. The soles are formed by placing several layers of leather together. The skin is prepared by a tanner at Womseldorf, 16 miles from Reading. The shoes are fashioned by a French shoemaker of this city, who knows nothing of the true character of the leather, but who often wonders at its exquisite smoothness, and says that it excels the finest French calf-skin.

Do not for a moment think that this doctor presents an exceptional case of one who puts the human skin to a practical use. Medical students frequently display a great variety of articles in which in the skin or bones of some dissected mortal has been gruesomely utilized, and in bursts of generosity they sometimes present these to their friends, who prize them highly. One of the “dudest” dudes in town carries a match-safe covered with a portion of the skin of a beautiful young woman who was found drowned in the Delaware river. It still retains its natural color. Another young man with whom I am acquainted carries a cigar case made of negro skin, a ghastly skull and crossbones appearing on one side in relief.

One of the best known surgeons in this country, who resides in this city, has a beautiful instrument case, entirely covered with leather made from an African’s skin. A young society lady of this city wears a beautiful pair of dark slippers, the remarkable illustriousness of whose leather invariably excites the admiration of her friends when they see them. The young doctor who presented them to her recently returned from an extended foreign tour, and he told her that he had purchased them from a Turk in Alexandria, and that he did not know what sort of leather they were made of, but he supposed it was the skin of some wild animal. As a matter of fact, the skin came from a negro cadaver, which was once prone on a Jefferson College dissecting table, and the leather was prepared in Womseldorf. The rosettes on the slippers were deftly fashioned from the negro’s kinky hair.

As most people of African descent believe, we are our ancestors. We have went through the same tragic history they endured and sometimes we even have memory of these events. We carry these inhumane experiences in our DNA so our history is very much a part of us. We have every right to know where we come from and we have every right to detest the cruel things that have been done to us.

Caribou Skin Clothing

Coastal Eskimo ice fisherman wearing caribou skin parka, pants, and boots

All rights reserved, Bailey Archive, Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Inland mountain Eskimos experience one of the world’s most extreme winter climates—temperatures of 55 degrees below zero or colder, often with gale force winds and blinding snow. Despite these daunting conditions, Eskimo people carry on with their daily life of hunting, fishing, gathering firewood, traveling, and camping. The key to their success and survival—above all else—is warm, effective, brilliantly designed and expertly made clothing.

The Eskimo people make their warmest clothing from caribou hide—a material that evolved over millions of years in the Arctic environment, providing caribou with unequaled insulation against penetrating cold and gales. Caribou hair is hollow, so it traps insulating air not only between the hairs but also inside them. Clothing made from this material is extraordinarily warm, lightweight, water repellent and durable.

An Eskimo hunter dressed in traditional clothing was completely wrapped in caribou skins. His parka —a hooded jacket invented by Eskimos—was made of caribou skin and worn with the fur inside. For deep cold and storms, a second parka could be worn over the first, with the fur side out. A wolf or wolverine fur ruff around the hood created a little pool of warmth that protected the wearer’s exposed face. Unlike other furs, wolverine also easily sheds the frost that collects from a wearer’s breath.

Caribou skin pants (kuliksak) were worn with the fur facing inside or outside. The socks (aliqsik) were always worn with the fur to the inside. Mittens (atqatik) were preferred over gloves because fingers are less susceptible to frostbite when cocooned in the warm pocket of air within a mitten. To stop frigid drafts, people sometimes wore caribou fur wristlets and tied a belt (tavsi) around the parka waist.

Nunamiut woman working with caribou hide

Anchorage Museum of History and Art

Caribou skin boots (kamik) are durable, extraordinarily warm, and nearly as lightweight and supple as the most comfortable slippers. No modern materials can match the combination of warmth and light weight of caribou skin boots.

Traditional Eskimo clothing is an achievement of the women, who are highly skilled designers and fabricators. Nunamiut women are expert at sewing, often critically inspecting each other’s work for the tightness and evenness of the stitching. Clothing is individually fitted to each wearer. It is also designed to look beautiful, with light and dark colored fur stitched together in elegantly attractive patterns.

A traditional sewing bag (ikpiagruk)—a pouch made from caribou leg skins—contained needles of carved caribou bone, walrus ivory, or caribou antler. The thimbles were made either from caribou skin, sheep leg bones, or caribou antler. Women made their own thread either from a single strand or multiple braided strands of sinew—a natural fiber from tendons in the caribou’s leg or back. Sinew thread is extremely strong and swells when wet, tightly filling the needle holes so the clothing is water resistant.

Nunamiut woman cutting caribou hide with ulu, a traditional women's knife

Anchorage Museum of History and Art

To make an item of clothing, a Nunamiut woman first dries the hide and then laboriously scrapes the leathery side to make it supple. Bull, cow, and calf hides have different qualities which suit them for specific purposes. For example, the thin, flexible caribou calf skins are ideal for parkas mid-weight cow skins are best for mittens, pants, and socks and winter boots are made from the lovely, durable leg and back skins of bull caribou. Hides from particular seasons also have differing qualities. Highly resilient boot soles, for instance, are made from the back skin of a large bull caribou taken in the fall, when the hide is thick and strong.

Caribou skin boots, socks, and mittens—meticulously crafted by women in the village—are still regularly worn by Nunamiut people and are regarded as superior to any commercially made substitute. While modern materials have replaced animal hide for many other items of clothing, the functional design elements still persist. For example, Eskimo people routinely add their own wolf or wolverine fur ruffs to manufactured parkas, as no better material has been found to shed snow and frost and to protect the wearer.

The parka—an Eskimo invention—is used in cold climates thoughout the world. Perhaps the strongest testament to the ingenuity and effectiveness of traditional Eskimo clothing is seen in the iconic bright red parkas with fur ruffs, worn by Antarctic researchers working in the coldest places on earth.

Pan Wearing an Animal Skin - History

Native American clothing prior to the arrival of Europeans was different depending on the tribe and the climate where the tribe lived. However, there were some general similarities.

What materials did they use?

The primary material used by Native Americans in their clothing was made from animal hides. Generally they used the hides of the animals they hunted for food. Many tribes such as the Cherokee and Iroquois used deerskin. While the Plains Indians, who were bison hunters, used buffalo skin and the Inuit from Alaska used seal or caribou skin.

Some tribes learned how to make clothing from plants or weaving thread. These included the Navajo and Apache, who learned how to make woven blankets and tunics, and the Seminole of Florida.

How did they make the clothes?

All of their clothes were made by hand. The women would generally make the clothes. First they would tan the animal skin. Tanning is a process that would turn the animal skin into leather which would last a long time and not decompose. Then they would need to cut and sew the leather into a piece of clothing.

Men often wore no shirts and a breechcloth
( Mohave Indians by Timothy H. O'Sullivan)

Often times clothing would be decorated. The Native Americans would use feathers, animal fur such as ermine or rabbit, porcupine quills, and, after the Europeans arrived, glass beads to decorate their clothes.

What clothing did the men wear?

Most Native American men wore a breechcloth. This was just a piece of material that they tucked into a belt that would cover the front and back. In many areas, especially areas with warm climates, this was all the men wore. In cooler climates, and in the winter, the men would wear leggings to cover up and keep their legs warm. Many men went shirtless throughout much of the year, only wearing cloaks when it got very cold. The Plains Indian men were known for their elaborate and decorated war shirts.

What clothing did Native American women wear?

The Native American women generally wore skirts and leggings. Often they wore shirts or tunics as well. In some tribes, like the Cherokee and the Apache, the women wore longer buckskin dresses.

Most Native Americans wore some kind of footwear. This was usually a shoe made of soft leather called a moccasin. In the cold northern areas like Alaska, they wore a thick boot called a mukluk.

Moccasins with porcupine bristles by Daderot

When the Europeans arrived many of the American Indian tribes were forced into contact with each other. They began to see how others dressed and took the ideas that they liked. Soon many tribes began to dress more alike. Woven blankets, fringed buckskin tunics and leggings, and feather headdresses became popular among many tribes.

Animal Prints - Why The Perennial Trend Will Be Forever Chic

Trends come and go (and come and go), but there are some which remain evergreen, earning their keep year after year. They may be more popular from one season to another but, on the whole, they will inevitably reappear forming the cornerstones of our wardrobes.

And this season, amid all the ideas that will have their five minutes of fame, we saw our beloved animal print dutifully return. Once worn by our parents and our grandparents before them it still feels as relevant as ever. At Balenciaga's SS20 show, leopard print arrived in coat form masculine and oversized with poppin' padded shoulders (see above for those trends that come and go) worn with yellow tights and some quite major earrings. Subtle!

At Saint Laurent models slunk down the catwalk in sultry cheetah print dresses, while Richard Quinn's take on leopard was full of joy. A parade of frothy, XXL dresses and exaggerated cartoon-like prints. But it's not just big cats out there on the runway, no no. Over at Dolce the whole safari was on display with rainforest prints, giraffes, zebras, and tropical birds aplenty.

Back to Balenciaga where zebra stripes were given an 80s sequin upgrade on jumpsuits Grace Jones would be proud of. And stripes it seems, were the pattern du jour with the likes of Marine Sierre, Marques'Almeida and Tod's, all giving us tiger and zebra inspired prints.

What else would amp up denim in quite the same way? Or bring instant glamour to slinky slips? Or even add a bit of pizzazz to sportswear? For this season, animal print and summer dressing go together like Justin and Hailey and it's not just the catwalks that are teaming with animals. The high street and independent brands are offering some of the best pieces around, from bucket hats and bikinis to chic ankle grazing midi skirts. Fashion favourite Ganni has even brought back their much sought after leopard slip dress, the ultimate summer piece guaranteed to come back out of the wardrobe next summer. As we said, buy today, wear forever, this perennial trend has already been on repeat for years.

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