Tromp L’oeil: /trômp ˈloi/

visual illusion in art, especially as used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object.

I snagged this dress from the H&M sales rack—or was it the floor—in 2012 for something like $19.99. It is a remake version of a dress originally designed by Martin Margiela in 1996. The enigmatic Belgian fashion designer was heavily influenced by minimalism, deconstructionism and Japanese avant-garde, and his creations have the dual quality of rebellion and luxury, blurring highbrow and lowbrow. A silver sequined floor-length evening gown digitally printed on a white high-neck sleeveless dress captures that perfectly. It gives a visual illusion of incredible effort and status of wiggling into a gown as such; where in reality, it takes 2.5 seconds to slip into what essentially is an unfinished pillowcase!

Materially speaking, this dress is 100% viscose, which is like the lightest, slinkiest, stretchiest fabric. It is unlined, and has absolutely no structure—it doesn’t crease and rolls up like a small hand towel. The edges are simply overlocked to prevent fraying. It is deceivingly simple to the point of being somewhat magical.

The oversized signature label “Maison Martin Margiela PARIS” retains the luxury-feel, while the “H&M Made in China” tag right below feels like a rhetorical question on fashion. For such a high-end house to collaborate with “fast-fashion” brand was a statement in itself, democratizing luxury yet keeping its covetable status in the fashion world.