Can’t Let Go: Fendi’s Neckline Illusion

I’m obsessed with the illusion neckline detail on this Fendi dress in their Fall 2017 RTW  line.

Fendi Fall 17 RTW KIM_0689
Image source: 

The red strip sewn in a U shape seems to be floating on the model’s skin. Not an earth shatteringly new detail, but so pretty and wearable if adapted to show less cleavage.  I say that because we see illusion on red carpet gowns, ice-skating costumes, bridal gowns and such, but rarely in “regular-people” wear.  This detail is a chance to add that feature to our humdrum wardrobes!

Image source: InStyle magazine, October 2017 issue. Some weird shadows you see in this image are totally my fault.

What’s the difference between “tulle” and “illusion”? (Yep, illusion is actually a fabric name). To my knowledge, nothing. They’re two names given to the same fabric – they’re both very fine nets in silk, polyester or nylon. From here on, I’ll refer to this fabric as tulle. Here’s a photo of my neck with a hand embroidered tulle scarf draped on it. The tulle is barely visible.

It is stretchy, very thin and is visible when gathered, like in a ballet tutu or in a bridal veil.  Directly on the skin in a single layer, tulle fabric disappears if used in an off white hue on any skin tone; by using that property, you can play tricks. Depending on skin tone, dark hued tulle is somewhat visible.

Another amazing example of this illusion is sewing educator Angela Wolf’s embroidered tulle sleeves (attached to a knit top) which give the illusion of tattooed arms! She demonstrated the technique in an episode of It’s Sew Easy, which you can watch online. I apologize for not providing a link to the video, because I could not find it. You can search for it on the Its Sew Easy website.

And, here’s a tulle scarf I hand embroidered. Can you see the fabric when placed on my neck? I see the wavy embroidery and the tulle is barely visible.  More tulle stuff to come 🙂


I’d like to share an image of a Chanel creation with you. This is from a catalog published by a museum coinciding with its Chanel exhibit a few years ago.  Can you see the embroidery cascading down the hand? However, I do believe the embroidery is on organza rather than tulle. But it achieves the illusion of free standing embroidery cascading down the wrist.  Did I say embroidery? It looks like the tweed threads have been frayed and stitched down on the organza.  Beautiful!

Edit: Now that I look at the enlarged photo below, there is some tulle there.

chanel illusion

The two details, Angela’s sleeves and the Fendi neckline treatment are two things I can’t let go of this fall.  When will I actually incorporate these into my sewn wardrobe? I hope soon; meanwhile I have to go through the items in queue …..

I’d love to see your thoughts about this in the comments section! Meanwhile, I’ll keep obsessing over this technique. Wouldn’t you love to recreate this idea?




7 thoughts on “Can’t Let Go: Fendi’s Neckline Illusion

  1. Samina, the tullework you shared is incredible! How is the fabric to work with? Any special instructions, concerns, tools, etc.?


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