Timeless Trend: ModCloth Takes on Trompe L’oeil

Vintage inspiration and sketches (above) of upcoming ModCloth products from our design team

You may have done a double-take upon viewing our latest newsletter, but your eyes aren’t deceiving you — this month we’re welcoming one of my very favorite fashion trends to ModCloth: trompe l’oeil.

Literally ‘to deceive the eye’ in French, trompe l’oeil has evolved and reappeared in the fashion world over and over again throughout the years, and it’s easy to understand why. To me, trompe l’oeil is one of the most unique trends out there, all at once fun, clever, and incredibly unique.

While the trend may seem super current, trompe l’oeil’s origins can actually be traced back to the Baroque period in the art world, though there’s even evidence that the technique was used by ancient civilizations, such as Pompeii. The phrase originated as a way to illustrate the artistic technique of using realistic painted images to create an optical illusion in 3D. Ever since it took the art world by storm in the 17th century, trompe l’oeil has fascinated art-admirers the world over.

But, it wasn’t until the 1930s that trompe l’oeil really made waves with the fashion set. That’s when Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli hit the scene, collaborating with artists by the likes of Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti. Can you imagine how exciting it must have been, concepting a fashion line with Surrealist artists? While Schiaparelli’s fashion house closed in the 50s, the trompe l’oeil torch was quickly picked up by House of Hermès, which produced an especially inspiring line of trompe l’oeil clothing in 1952, some examples of which you can check out in the mood board, above.

From the 17th century, to the Surrealist movement of the 30s, to House of Hermes in the 50s, and another resurgence in the 70s, trompe l’oeil has had an exciting journey, and I’m so excited to be bringing this timeless trend to you this month. Check out a couple of my favorite trompe l’oeil styles below, and be sure to check out our full selection of statement styles!

Trompe l’oeil is certainly a trend with staying power, where do you think this surrealist style will pop up next?

About Susan

Susan's all-time favorite things include pugs, eating outdoors, and absurd mushroom-themed housewares. Her current obsessions include nail polish, wedges, and anything high-waisted. Her ultimate style icon is her grandma, and she's one of the founders of ModCloth!

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  1. Avatar
    krySal 01/23/2014 at 3:25 am #

    this is absolutely lovely but … after following this blog & ModCloth website for a while, I have a question: where’s the Plus Size fashion? there’s scarcely any article including ModCloth plus size items – & there’s many of them! & there’s also a slice of customers (see the Gallery) who buy them & shows them around ..so why not dedicate an article every now & then to curvy ladies that buy items above the L size?

    • Avatar
      Kitsap River 01/24/2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Thank you, krySal! I quite agree. ModCloth is developing quite the following in the curvy community; where’s the acknowledgement thereof?

    • Avatar
      Kelly Nicola (@kellynicola) 01/24/2014 at 3:48 pm #

      I totally agree krySal! I love to read articles about plus-size fashion and curvy girls who rock their style! It would be amazing to get some styling tips for specific Modcloth plus-size items.

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      Susan 01/28/2014 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks for the comment krySal! We’ll definitely keep your feedback in mind during our upcoming editorial meetings 🙂

      I think the trompe l’oeil can work for ladies of all shapes and sizes – and I’m really happy that our Leeds Time Dress (the yellow dress pictured above) is available in sizes XS to 4X!

  2. Avatar
    Joanne Stern 01/25/2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I love the Leeds dress just not in yellow, what about in blue, red, or black? I’m a huge fan of your clothes! I love that you this. (read if you make the Leeds dress in the 3 colors mentioned above I will buy it).

    • Avatar
      Susan 01/28/2014 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks Joanne – glad you love it too! 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Mary Mason 01/29/2014 at 2:12 pm #


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