Trompe l’oeil is French for “fool the eye” and that is precisely what many fashion designers love to do. What better time of year to appreciate their most mind bending work than April Fool’s Day?
Many of these designers, interestingly, owe a great debt to the sartorial mastermind Rei Kawakubo, who will be honored at this year’s Met Gala with an entire exhibit devoted to her label, Comme des Garçons. Maison Margiela is just one label that’s been upfront about how much Kawakubo’s creations have influenced their own designs. One of the main inheritances is an obsession with optical illusions.
Whether they play with architecture, materials, or patterns, trompe l’oeil clothing is designed to make you look twice. Elsa Schiaparelli is credited with popularizing the technique in 1927 when she sewed together a collared shirt and a sweater. It was a single garment but it gave the impression of two. Or was it two garments that looked like one? Whatever the case, the look remains popular and the House of Schiaparelli still likes to keep a trick or two up their sleeves (sometimes literally). Their most recent show was no exception.
Some trompe l’oeil pieces bring to mind the dizziness-inducing art of geniuses like M. C. Escher. Others are just incomparably original. Can you spot the trick in each of these outfits? — jas