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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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Oscars 2014 Fashion

Firstly, I think it’s sucky that the Oscars are not aired live in the UK – unless you have Sky. Maybe the feed could be found somewhere, buried in the deepest depths of the internet, but unfortunately my hours of searching brought me nothing.

So instead, I’ve had to turn to Vogue Online again. I won’t lie, I don’t pay too much attention to who won what Oscar (frankly, the various voters have made too many questionable choices over the years for me to trust their judgement). For me, it’s all about who wore what. I think that’s the most important part of the Oscars to most of us, really – the fashion. All images are sourced from Vogue.co.uk and eonline.com

The Best 10

Lupita Nyong’o’s Prada dress was made especially for her, teamed with Fred Leighton headband and jewellery. Most photos that I have seen of her in this dress involve her swishing it, and I can’t blame her – I would be doing exactly the same were this my dress – it just looks so amazing!

Show us a twirl: Lupia seemed particularly pleased with her gown, which she revealed had been made especially for her

I’ve seen this Gucci dress on a few ‘worst dressed’ lists because of the ‘armory’ detailing, but personally I love it. It’s a gorgeous touch of detail on a classically cut dress.

Cate Blanchett’s Armani Privé dress actually took a while to grow on me. Or rather, the dress of 90% instantly gorgeous – the sheer, uber pale, colour-match fabric. It was the embellishments that took some getting used to. It needs something of course, otherwise it would have just looked… ‘is she wearing a dress or just foundation with a skirt?’ blandness. There’s just something about these particular… what are they, exactly? Pearly, flat, round… coins? Discs? They just remind me a little too much of barnacles and other weird anthropods and mussels and… sea stuff. I think I’m probably the only person in the world who sees that though, so let’s just ignore that weird little comparison. I do, however, love the sleeves.

Image

Worst Dressed

This could have been a great dress – Giambattista Valli – if Penelope Cruz had just ditched the weird drapey shoulder scarf thing. Though I’m not keen on the pastel, faded-bubblegum colour, either.

A bit too 2001 glitz rather than 2014 Gatsby.

Wacky wallpaper: Zooey Deschanel donned a very busy floral and polka dot strapless number to the Vanity Fair party (left), and Nikki Reed looked ready for bed in her bathrobe-style boho gown (right)

Lace overload: Fashion darlings Karolina Kurkova (left, in Elie Saab at Elton John's viewing party) and Diane Kruger (right, in Valentino at the Vanity Fair after party) both opted for over-the-top lace looks

Bin bag dress, anyone?

Disney Media co-chair Anne Sweeney. wore an oddly structured blue Armani Prive dress, which opened at the waist to reveal a bright red silk accent

The ‘Almost There’s…

This Vera Wang dress just doesn’t quite… work. The fabric looks a bit cheap, a bit too t-shirt-y.

Lady Gaga, Oscars 2014

Chuck the chiffon around-the-neck wrap, and the ugly Gaga shoes (yes, I am aware that Gaga is not Gaga without Gaga shoes), and it’s a yes. The dress – Lorraine Schwartz – is beautiful. I’m not a Gaga fan, but all in all, she looks much better than when she wears her usual crazy outfits.

If it weren’t for the weird thigh-split detailing on the skirt (and that random layer of fabric above her leg), this J Mendel dress would be a yes for me.

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