Trompe l'oeil, tu me trompes!

The origins of 'trompe l'oeil' (literally 'trick the eye') are found in art as early as the 16th-17th century. It has since been incorporated into various art forms, such as bodypainting and surrealist art. The 1920s and 30s marked the beginning of its use in fashion design. Elsa Shiaparelli was the first fashion designer to build the bridge between art 'trompe l'oeil' and fashion 'trompe l'oeil', working closely with the artists Salvador Dali, Leonor Fini, Jean Cocteau and Alberto Giacometti. In around 1936-37, Elsa Shiaparelli made a Dali inspired "desk suit", and in 1937 and 38respectively she created a "skeleton dress" and "shoe hat", all of which display elements of the 'incongruous', a theme commonly linked to Surrealist art.
Chanel Couture, Sonia Rykiel, Phillip Lim, Alberta Ferretti, Zac Posen, Proenza Schouler, Louis Vuitton, Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs, Antonio Berardi, Sass & Bide and Tsumori Chisato are just some of the fashion pack who have been inspired to bring 'trompe l'oeil' to their current collections and a whole host of celebrities have consequently been channelling the look.
Chanel's use of tattoo designs in the SS10 runway show has also caused a stir amongst fashionistas, as the models paraded down the runway with delicate pearl, bead, chain and flower motifs on their necks, wrists, shoulder bones and thighs (see 'tattoo' garter below!). Chanel's make-up director Peter Philips decided to bring this new take on 'body art' to the public. Chanel is said to be launching a 55 piece transfer set of 'trompe l'oeil' temporary tattoos, which will be available from March the 1st in Chanel boutiques and retail at £49. Sharon Forrester from vogue.co.uk states that the tattoos "walk the line between make-up and fashion accessory" and this is indeed one of its appeals. From what I have seen so far, the designs appear to be very delicate and feminine (and of course include the iconic CC logo!)I think the key point is that tattoos tread the fine line between being sophisticated and being trashy. The designs are without doubt classy, but need to be carefully worn! The Chanel transfers would look particularly good glimpsed from underneath a mesh top or on the shoulder blades, whilst wearing a backless dress. The only thing I'm not sold on, is the quantity and price of the tattoos!
On the highstreet front, Rosalind Keep, an undergraduate from London College of Fashion, is the designer of the Oasis line of 'trompe l'oeil'! Take a look below at the 'trompe l'oeil' lovelies she's created! My personal favourite is the corset print dress, which comes in peach or black and is just at snippet of the designer price tags at just £35!
Here are some of the 'trompe l'oeil' pieces I've got in my wardrobe:
This corset print 'trompe l'oeil' top is quite similar to the ones from Oasis and was a gift from my mum. It looks really lovely on, due to the the stretchy cotton material which hugs the body!
Yes, these are the Henry Holland suspender tights themselves - pictured on Lily Allen, Pixie Geldof and The Saturdays. I'm yet to wear them out as I think they need to be worn with extreme care - otherwise the wrong effect will be produced! In my opinion, they have been worn most successfully under loose tunic dresses.
Last but not least, here is my Ted Baker 'Ted goes vinyl' 'trompe l'oeil' bag, which was a gift from my cousin. I love the concept of a bag print on a bag!

What do you think of the 'trompe l'oeil' trend? One thing's for sure, it doesn't appear to be disappearing any time soon!



  1. This is amazing, I love the way you write it's detailed but interesting! I hope more people follow you!

  2. I really like the trend actually and agree with all your points and the one you own in your waredrobe is gorgeous, thanks for sharing!