Trompe l’oeil is French for fool, deceive, ‘trick the eye’, and is a centuries old practice within the design worlds of art, architecture and fashion. I have always loved trompe l’oeil for its whimsical, witty, and playful effects and I am not alone. Elsa Schiaparelli, who opened a boutique in Paris in the latter part of the 1920’s, was known for her ‘shocking’, bold designs and her irreverent use of trompe l’oeil. Later versions, like Karl Lagerfeld’s haute couture faux jewel trimmed evening gown from 1983, is currently on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Chanel exhibit. Oscar de la Renta has recently been taken with trompe l’oeil in the form of jeweled sweaters, and Anna Sui’s trompe l’oeil filled collection several years back, was an homage to Roberta di Camerino, the Italian born designer who rose to fame in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, applied this technique on everything from evening dresses to ties, handbags, scarves, and umbrellas.
As any collector knows, choice vintage di Camerinos can fetch big bucks, and her newer bags (normally done in rich velvet often mixed with leather) which are currently available worldwide and at Barneys New York (Madison Avenue, Chicago, Beverly Hills), can easily sell upwards of $800. That is why Roberta’s fabulous, eye-catching, signed, large, light, and practical canvas tote bag (boasting the trompe l’oeil design of a bag complete with luggage tags and gold screws), selling for a mere $190, is hard to resist. Perfect anytime of the year, and great for travel, it is made for the summer months ahead. Measuring approximately 18 inches by 15 inches, it features TWO sets of handles (one can be slung over the shoulder and the other is meant to be hand held) as well as a roomy zippered inside pocket. Though I cannot attest to what Barneys currently has in stock (the bags are going fast), they originally came in three color combinations: red, white, and blue; luggage, navy, and red; and shades of green. (212 826-8900)