Optical illusions play a significant role in fashion designing as it helps designers to create designs that appear to have different shapes, sizes, or dimensions than they actually do. By utilizing the principles of optical illusions, fashion designers can create visually interesting and unique designs that catch the eye and create a sense of movement or depth.
A French term for “trick the eye,” the optical illusion style is characterized by silhouettes, prints, and other elements that appear as if in 3D.
Optical Art is a mathematically-themed form of Abstract art, which uses repetition of simple forms and colors to create vibrating effects, moiré patterns, foreground, background confusion, an exaggerated sense of depth, and other visual effects. The art movement OP art came to international attention in the mid-1960s, an era of global social and technological change. The movement, which placed emphasis on viewer perception by exploring Optical effects like fashion design. What is so alluring about the current op moment is that designers have pushed their research as much as their aesthetics in order to cleverly contrast textures, lines, and curves.
Although since the 1920s had the way people dressed changed so radically but in the mid-1960s, the convergence of music, film, fashion and social, change the mod look blasted out of London. The fashion- mod look was spread and looking forward to the future as sharp, bold, minimalist – modernist.
“Several retail designers use optical illusions in their clothing,” Ridgway said. “Some of the illusions are well executed and create a flattering effect and some simply do not work well with the body shape of the wearer. I really wanted to understand what these garments do for women from a psychological perspective.”
Role of Optical Illusions in Fashion Designing:
Optical illusions can be used in fashion designing to create interesting and visually striking garments. These illusions can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including pattern-making, fabric selection, and color blocking. I believe optical illusions work very well in fashion industry. They actually have the power to attract the gaze and to put the public in a visual trance!
Optical illusions are best created by different types of lines on dress. The amazing thing is that a bulgy part of the body can be hidden with silhouettes and heaviness can be shown on some parts by adding designer lines in the form of pleats, tucks, seams and necklines. Physiologically, lines make the eyes twist and control our brain in such a way that our eyes follow and fix on the design.
For example, Line direction may be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or curved. Vertical lines lead the eye upward creating the illusion of height to visually slenderize the figure. Horizontal lines usually carry the eye across. Diagonal lines slant, and because of the slant are incredibly slimming and like vertical lines, no matter where you place them on your body will slim that area. Curved lines are graceful. They may be soft when slightly curved or bold when tightly curved.
One of the most commonly used optical illusions in fashion is the use of patterns. By playing with patterns, designers can create the illusion of depth, movement, and texture.
For example, a dress with vertical stripes can make the wearer appear taller, while a dress with diagonal stripes can create a sense of movement.
It is called the Helmholtz illusion – which is that a square made up of vertical lines will actually seem wider and shorter than a square made up of horizontal lines – and a dress with a vertically striped pattern will seem wider and shorter than a dress made of a horizontally striped pattern.
Another common optical illusions used in fashion designing is the use of color. Colors can be used to create contrast and highlight certain areas of the body or garment.
For example, a black dress with white stripes down the sides can create a slimming effect by drawing the eye inward. As you might have guessed, this is actually the exact same skirt shown twice, but contrasted with different colored sweaters. However, the skirt paired with the purple sweater looks more pastel than the skirt with the grey sweater.
Bezold Effect, This effect, named after a German professor of meteorology, Wilhelm von Bezold, is based on the fact that colors appear differently depending on the color of setting (environment). The red color on a white background appears lighter, and the red color on a black background appears darker. In Fig. 1.m, as the background color and brightness of the artist Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) painting ‘Nu Blue II’ change, the figure becomes clearer.
Fashions of OP art are undeniably inspired from the 60′s and 70′s, a time of bright color and bold pattern and of course amazing art and design.
To exaggerate certain visual effects, OP artists often use simple shape primitives such as circles and lines in highly contrasting colors such as red, blue and off white [ French designer Yves saint-Laurent, 2002] as shown in below, where Josef Albers, OP-art silkscreen, 1972 has called that “The Responsive Eye”.
Shapes and silhouettes can also be manipulated using optical illusions in fashion designing. By playing with proportions, designers can create a variety of shapes and silhouettes that flatter different body types. The famous Stella McCartney “miracle dress” is one such example, made famous for its figure-altering properties. In this design, designer only use simple geometry like side panels that change figure shape. It also called shading illusion. Look more slimmer then before.
For example, a dress with a fitted top and flared skirt can create the illusion of an hourglass figure, while a dress with an A-line silhouette can create a more slender look.
Texture is another element that can be manipulated using optical illusions. By combining different fabrics and textures, designers can create visual interest and depth. For example, a dress with a lace overlay can create a delicate and feminine look; while a dress with a leather trim can create a more edgy and modern feel.
Optical Illusion and Dresses Design:
Optical illusion can make a dizzying visual impact through OP art fashion. The alluring optic print and pop art trend is an eye-grabbing expression of geometric precision, striking design and trippy illusions as in below fig. In this type of dress, it shows a combination of Mathematics and Fashion designers use the distribution of colors, lines, patterns to make us have different looks about true measure of wearers’ body. These dresses help girls to cover defects on their body. Optical illusion spiral patterns dress make the body look fuller. By adjusting, arranging color blocks, designers can change ratio of women bodies according to what they want.
“Optical illusion lines” the vertical lines make them look taller, whilst the Horizontal lines make them look thinner. To make your hips look bigger, small- big, dark light patterns are usually used.
However, because ideas for every year designs are repeated after certain period of time, it is always think that Fashion is a circle. For example, the idea for optical illusion dress was in collection can use black background to fool us or it can make the waist look slimmer, taller and curver. See the fig. in below.
OP art fashion design playing on the relationship between the transparent fabrics and the color of the skin body. Fall 2017 Couture fashion show by Iris van Herpen his optical illusion transparent dress figure is shown in below as example.
Optical illusion is a very enjoyable mistake without use of any complicated technology and it is made only by visual system. You may see a person standing but his/her clothes stars moving with your moves! All pieces are made of printed silk and transparent fabrics and they made by hand. Black is used for the color because of its highly contrast that can make the best moire effect. Minimal style and careful selection of material and precise pattern making, helped us to achieve a refined silhouette. This kind of textile also called Motion illusion for viewers.
Men’s fashion OP art:
Fashion designers are first use Optical illusion or OP art in UK, 1960. But now-a-days it is widely used in fashion design. Different kind of optical illusions are applied in men’s fashion. Some pictures are below:
Suddenly optical illusion patterns started appearing on everything from clothes to advertisements, stationery, furnishing fabrics as that useful garment. For a few years now, with an almost punctual regularity, “OP” suggestions have been displayed on runways all over the world using lexical and ornamental elements undoubtedly inspired either to cinema or TV and events dedicated to a decade which is still leaving its mark.
However, not to be confused with OP Art; It explores many fundamental artistic and scientific concepts, from geometric shapes and perspectives to color theory and the psychology of visual perception, geometric styles were usually made up of panels of fabric in boldly contrasting colors such as black and white or bright primary colors.
Editor of Fashion2Apparel. She is a fashion designer and ex-lecturer in Fashion Designing. She wants to spread fashion knowledge throughout the world.