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The Curvy Ups and Creepy Downs of Optical Illusion Fashion

At school, I was always the kid who sucked at spotting the hidden tigers and butterflies in the Magic Eye books that would be shared between us beneath the branches of the willow tree that stood in the corner of the playground. Though I’m not entirely sure that my friends were being honest when they’d swear that they could see the possibly non-existent exotic animals hidden between swirling lines of ‘grass’.

So when the trend for optical illusions reached fashion, I loved it. Why strain yourself searching for pointless pictures of exotic animals hidden in a pointless painted jungle, when we can put the age old tricks to good use? Now a simple bodycon dress can give the impression of curves in all the right places, balancing out those somewhat un-proportioned figures. A godsend if, like me, you have what I would call a ‘crazy pear’ shape going on. While I do love my ‘curvy’ bum and my clothes-sit-well-on-me boobs… dress shopping can be a nightmare. Bodycon’s are a no no, unless I’m deliberately going for the ‘two aspirins on an ironing board’ look teamed with the ‘will that bum fit through the doorway’ look. The basic bodycon is a cruel illusion in itself, exaggerating my proportionate differences. That’s fine, I can rule out bodycon’s from my wardrobe. I can be a pear-shaped quite happily. After all, to be a perfect hourglass, with my waist and hip measurements, I’d need 30F boobs (according to a quick online calculator) – no thank you!!

So I’d resigned myself to a lifelong bodycon ban, sticking to a rule of baggy tops with pencil skirts or fitted tops with flared skirts – both fine, cute, easy enough.

Then I saw Kate Winslet in that Stella McCartney dress circa Autumn 2011.

I’m not saying this was the first optical illusion within fashion. I mean, look at corsets! And my ‘baggy/pencil skirt, fitted/flared’ rules But for me – and most women worldwide, judging from the stir that this dress caused – it was a definite moment of ‘yes – finally!!’

Before this dress popped up on every celebrity with boobs, there was the interesting Viktor & Rolf dresses of their Spring 2010 collection.

And since, there are been so, so many adaptions of the Stella dress (who made several restyles of her own), that I could dedicate an entire blog to each design.

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Alexander McQueen

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Stella McCartney

However, yesterday, this trend took a strange turn for me. It was a first – never has a photograph of Keira Knightley ever sparked such creeped-out horror to my eyes. Nor has a photograph featuring Chanel couture – and especially never have I disliked a combination of the two, as much as I do in this moment.

I give you, the weirdest ready-to-wear optical illusion outfit I have seen to date:

It’s like… Chanel’s version of the Skittle family of Toy Town.

Optical illusions should be used to flatter our curves, and create them when we have none! It’s about making a woman more womanly, more beautiful. Not… separating our upper and lower half, burying our natural curves beneath swathes of shapeless fabric and wrapping a teeny tiny waist until it no longer looks slender, but sickly.

And for this outfit to be Chanel… while I get how this outfit fits perfectly with their theme of the ‘incredible lightness of being’, I’m disappointed.

Then again, I saw their Pre-AW14 collection. Cowboys and Indians? Really? That’s the look you’ve chosen for this season, Mr Lagerfeld? Ok… you’re the boss.

Please, please, please.. no more scary illusions, ok? I know that the hourglass enhancing bodycon dresses of Stella McCartney’s collections are three years old now, but you know… if it’s not broke.

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