Trend Watching: Ombré from the Gallery to the Catwalk

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page


When new looks emerge on the catwalk, it’s often a fascinating reminder of that electrifying buzz of creative exchange between the haute couture industry and the contemporary art scene.

Take one prominent star of the current season: ombré. Dip-dyed fabrics, tonal bleeds and photographic fade-out prints define the S/S 13 aesthetic, from Burberry to Versace, while ombré hair reins as the fore-running style for this summer. For those with a finger on the pulse of the art world, this came as no surprise; the trend was born not inside the fashion house but within the artist’s studio.

Just a few years ago, graduated colour started to appear in the work of artists interested in tonality and visual perception. One leading figure to explore the realm from a fresh perspective was superstar Olafur Eliasson. His seminal 2009 piece ‘Your Atmospheric Colour Atlas’ created a whole room of saturated colours blending into each other through a deep haze. Impressing the critics, the Swedish artist made heads turn worldwide.

Ombre and Art

Ombre and Art

Another key inspiration for this growing trend has to be the beautiful work of the very talented Tauba Auerbach. From 2010 she began to produce her celebrated fold paintings. Treating the canvas like fabric, she twists and bends it, before ironing to create delicate textured paintings, spray-painted with a fading tonal effect to enhance the visual play. The elegance of these compositions and the grace with which the canvas falls seems a natural inspiration for wearable garments, with a palpable echo of dressmaking inherent to her folding technique.

Lately, I also discovered the stunning ombré effects in the work of Belgian artist Pieter Vermeersch. By translating fading tones to the wall, he finds a new way to explore the concerns of both Auerbach and Eliasson’s practice – the way art can affect how our eyes perceive in three dimensions.

Though fashion materializes from a whole host of creative sources, it has to be art that proves the most interesting amongst them. Beyond the strength of its influence on what appears in boutiques from London to Milan, the excitingly original ideas that arise from engagement with contemporary visual trends make the relationship well worth following.

Stay tuned to The Sloaney for a report on trending aesthetics in contemporary art for a sneak peak at what we might expect on the catwalk next year.

Tauba Auberach is currently showing at the Wiels Centre for Contemporary Art in Brussels. Olafur Eliasson will unveil a new site-specific piece at Kunsten in Denmark from May this year. Images from Pieter Vermeeersch’s recent exhibition at Galerie Perrotin are available via

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *