Trompe L'oeil: The Optical Illusion Trend Taking Over Fashion

Fashion is a mix of creativity and style, making it an easy medium to have fun with. What makes fashion even more fun is when it takes a comical route. While there will always be style trends to follow, there are also opportunities to add some whimsy to your closet with the help of some adventurous fashion designers. Many times, when designers look to cause a high-fashion comical moment on the runway, they turn to trompe l'oeil. Trompe l'oeil is French for "to deceive the eye" or "trick the eye." These pieces are unique in that they often take the shape of a drawing, painting, or digital rendering, even though it holds the shape of another topic. The most common example of trompe l'oeil is typically seen with the cartoon bikini plastered over a white long t-shirt you see in TV and movies.

These trompe l'oeil pieces are one-of-a-kind and tend to be the most fun pieces seen during fashion week. The optical illusion it presents can come in many shapes or forms. Whether it's a play on textures, pieces, or fabrics, designers usually use this as a means of having fun and giving an ode to their creativity. Even though it's rare to see them in real life, it's a fun trend to try and incorporate in simple ways.

The digital illusion

While not exactly a Y2K fashion trend, the digital illusion is an ode to a favorite pastime from the late '90s to early '00s. If anyone remembers spending time creating fun drawings and painting on Paint, you'll probably appreciate a good digital and pixelated illusion. Similar to a cartoon drawing, these illusion pieces take you right into a 2D world. Black-outlined clothing pieces will typically give you the same feel and appearance of a 2D world without the confusion and eye trick.

Surrealist fashion

Most of the time you see an example of a trompe l'oeil clothing piece, it's because of the surrealist message behind it. It's no secret that fashion loves a good avant-garde and over-the-top moment, making these two the perfect pair. Even though the piece may not make sense, it's part of the art movement that gets you wondering. By giving you a trompe l'oeil fashion moment, designers can play with surrealism to give you a collection you simply can't logically explain.

Outfit on outfit

Perhaps the easiest way to wear one of these optical illusion pieces in real life is by wearing an outfit on top of another outfit. These pieces tend to start with a black or white long dress or shirt. On top of these pieces is another outfit that's been spray painted or printed on top of it, giving the optical illusion of you wearing one outfit while wearing another. You can't deny this is a practical way of getting two outfits in one.

The obvious illusion

Although these optical illusions aren't fooling anyone any time soon, some appear strikingly realistic. Others, however, are obviously not real, and they are made for a reason. Fashion sometimes likes to invoke sarcasm into its trends, making its pieces even more of a message. Sometimes the trompe l'oeil pieces you see on the runway serve to poke fun at the high status and refinement of the industry. Poking fun at the entire concept of high fashion is one of the statements to take from this trend.

Artistic interpretations

Not every optical illusion is meant to make a joke or statement via fashion. You will also see these tricks used to showcase inspiring pieces of art. We've seen examples from the sheer top trend that take a mesh clothing piece and turn it into a real work of art. Although you are just wearing a sheer top, the actual fashion moment is the pattern or artwork painted on top. Using fabrics such as mesh or tulle makes it easy to create the illusion of another work of art on top and is the simplest way to introduce trompe l'oeil to your wardrobe.

A couture moment

Haute couture is often seen as out of reach and difficult to wear unless you're on the red carpet. Trompe l'oeil is perhaps the easiest way to transform your wardrobe into couture without having to pay for a custom designer piece. Whether it's with a sheer or over-the-top piece, playing with the optical illusion of an item can make it easy to invoke the same feeling of the runway in your wardrobe.