Trendwatch: Trompe L'Oeil

04/15/2007 at 06:00 AM ET

No, it’s not your eyes — these are fashion illusions. Translating to “trick the eye,” trompe l’oiel is a centuries old technique of making the 2-d look 3-d. Popular in design in the 70’s, the look is back with a vengeance for spring, showing up on stars like Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson and Lucy Liu. Their designer frocks are from Proenza Schouler, Louis Vuitton and Zac Posen, but don’t worry — we’ve got some ideas on how to get the look for less! Tell us: Is this a trend you’d try?

Try a trompe top from Tsumori Chisato, $230, at or this quirky t-shirt, $15, from

Just want a hint of trompe l’oeil? Try these adorable Roberta di Camerino wedges, $140, at or this little Anna Sui tank top, $34, at

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage; fame; Goff/INF

Add A Comment

Got something to add to this post? Fill out the fields below to make a comment, ask a question or share a tip. We'd love to hear from you.

Note: If this is your first time commenting on Style News Now, your comment will need to be approved by our moderator before it will appear. Thanks for your patience, and check back again soon.

Showing 25 comments

Ela on

umm… What 3-D???

rashundra. on

I like it!

julie on

Ela, for instance, making Scarlett’s dress look like it has a separate (3d) bodice, and making Lucy Liu’s shirt look like it has a turned down collar and beading. Except none of this 3d stuff is there — it’s all created with the 2d “drawings” on the outfits.

I really love this! It’s very pretty. I love the Anna Sui top, but I’m not sure if I’d have the courage to actually wear it. I’d have to find something to wear as a jacket.

R on

Of course. I love it!

AnnieM on

Julianne and Lucy look nice. Not terribly into Scarlett’s outfit – think it is the black tights with those shoes.

me on

I don’t get it?!?

amber on

ok i’m missing the 3-d thing, it doesn’t look 3-d to me….Scarlett Johansson is the only one that looks good wearing it btw.

yvonne franceschi on

Definitely not. this technique looks good in interior
design but not in clothes. The main idea is to trick the
eye or give the illusion of a three -dimensional space on a flat surface. This I learned at a interiordesign school, so I guest on fabrics doesn’t look like “trompe-l’oeil because you have to
work with geometric patterns and you have to manipulate
light and shade, unless you use a huge piece of fabric. Yvonne

Maryse on

I’m not digging Julianne Moore’s dress. I sorta like the top part of the dress / design, but I dislike the bottom part, especially that fur fluff, or whatever that is. I like her shoes though and she has beautiful red hair.

Scarlett Johansson’s dress is cute, but I’m not really digging those shoes with that outfit. They just look weird to me.

Lucy Liu’s dress is beautiful. She is so put together. She’s beautiful.

Rudy on

I honestly don’t think this is really fashionable at all- stars seem to pull it off all right, but all in all I think that this is a seriously outdated trend. The only piece I think is OK is the Anna Sui top at Otherwise, I think this trend needs to be sent back to the shelf of old and outdated….

PS- …Unless of course designers can find a way to do this trend in a… shall we say, simpler way. For example, I like how simple Scarlett’s blouse is- it’s pretty and feminine, I’ll admit. But Julianne’s dress? I definitely think that’s way too much.

Ava on

I have to agree with the first post – what 3-D? Just looks like very boring dresses. This is a trend I’ll give a skip.

KT from Cda on

I guess I just don’t see it.

design king on

Lucy Liu definitely looks the best! She is so fit.

Avery on

Scarlett, hunny – lose the tigths already. It’s Spring. Plus that dress with those tights are soo wrong together.

Rebecca on

I love Julianne Moore, but that dress isn’t doing anything for her. The other two are okay, but probably not something I would wear.

Gracie on

I very much like all these dresses….but what does 3d mean?

Ashley on

Lucy looks amazing as always. I guess I just don’t see the 3-d either. Weird.

j on

i’d try it. maybe. if it were flattering on me.

Elda on

i love Lucy’s outfit the best, hot mamasita!!

KT from Cda on

I keep on looking at these photos but I just don’t see it. I have a stigma so maybe that’s it. I’m glad that I’m not the only one!

enigma on

These dresses are a poor example of “Trompe L’Oeil”…from an artist’s “trained eye” point of view….

A better example of Trompe L’Oeil, in the fashion world would be, when Sports Illustrated did the painted body suits a few years back…remember those?? those were really cool and the only issue of SI I have ever purchased because of the art value of it all….

Well, that is the visual definition of “Trompe L’Oeil” which in french means “make believe”.

Anyway, in painting, it’s a hard techinque to master and takes tons of time but, when you “get it” it’s not soo bad when you sit down and paint. The effect is wonderful. I commend those that have the patience to do it!!!


enigma on

Hey Gracie,

3d is short for Three Dimensional.

3d or Three dimensional definition is, #1. a). of or having three dimensions b). appearing to have depth or thickness in addition to height and width. #2. having a convincing or lifelike quality.

Well, I hope that helps you out a bit more!!


enigma on

I promise I won’t write anymore on the subject after this, but, here is “The Artist’s Handbook” definition…

Trompe L’oeil, Illusionistic painting that deceives the observer into thinking the objects depicted are real.

Krista on

yes, esp since Scarlett is sporting it. I LOVE HER. She is so glamorous and fashionable. Of course, im a TRYsexual… I’ll try anything once

Julianne on

Wow! I think Lucy Liu looks great!

From Our Partners


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,515 other followers

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters