Use the Illusion

This has been floating around various blogs for a while, but this Oslo opera house curtain is amazing. It’s been woven to look like crumpled foil.

I am obsessed with this kind of illusion in textiles – I’m not sure what to call it exactly. It’s a kind of trompe l’oeil – fabric pretending to be what it’s not, but it’s not exactly in the same line as Schiaparelli or these brush stroke adorned Hermes dresses, which seem more playful and less strange.

Hermes dress from Life magazine

Vintage Hermes shots from Life magazine

It’s more that your brain gets a kind of fizz from realising that what you’re seeing isn’t what you’re getting. I get the same feeling from this incredibly detailed Chae Young Kim knitted wallpaper from Surface View, which would be covering the walls of my living room if I had a spare couple of hundred quid lying around.

Chae Young Kim wallpaper from Surface View

I think the illusion is also what makes Isabelle De Borchgrave‘s paper dresses so wonderful. I think my ideal job would be to work in her studio, creating ridiculously detailed paper outfits all day. There’s an interesting quote from an interview she did with the Telegraph about her work:

‘I did it by myself, at first, and it was very badly done because I had no technique. But every day I would learn something new, and the technique arrived little by little.’

Isn’t that great? Look at this amazing Marie Antoinette dress.

Picture from Isabelle De Borchgrave website
Picture from Isabelle De Borchgrave’s website

It also reminds me of Alexander MacQueen’s Spring 2010 collection, with all those unbelievable reptilian digital prints, which are more life-like than reality. I wonder what the fabric actually feels like? There’s one of these in the permanent fashion gallery at the V&A.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2010

Maybe in the future when digital fabric printers are cheap and plentiful we’ll all be able to print out 5 metres of our own crazy foil print fabric and run up a little cocktail number in no time. I know there’s always Spoonflower, but imagine having your own digital printer in your home… we can only dream I guess (although probably in 100 years time it will be standard, and everyone will be walking around in twin-sets printed with cat pictures).


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