Leopard fur was originally (and in some cultures still is) worn by kings as a status symbol, representing authority and dominance over nature. The rarity of the animals also makes it very desirable for trophy-hunters. The fur therefore symbolizes—in a universal, toxically masculine way—power, triumph, and success.
The 1940s and the women’s movement used the fake leopard fur, known as leopard print, as a symbol of dominance and independence by reclaiming this masculine symbol for their own struggle. The print became associated with femininity, representing non-domestication, power, and strength. In a nutshell: emancipation.
Later on, the leopard print was taken up by various subcultures (such as the punk movement) and remains a popular print in high as well as everyday fashion.