For your eyes only

As an omnipresent symbol, the eye sees all and is looking eye-catching this season!

Designers have set their sights on eyes this season. The eye motif peeks out from jackets, pants, skirts, shoes and accessories. Kenzo has given the inspiration an Asian twist: the eye protects its wearer as with the temples in India, Nepal and China. This is clothing worn as a good luck charm. And while its magical powers to ward off misfortune cannot be proven, the eye motif makes an overwhelmingly positive, optimistic statement, giving a passing wink to surrealism. Magritte and Dali made the eye one of their favorite symbols, and it continues to evoke dreams, magic and a desire to experience the world beyond the confines of reality. To experience the world of fashion as it happens. The surrealist reference has been picked up in a quirky Kenzo Fall/Winter campaign by Toilet Paper, who courts the absurd with a barrage of eyeballs.  Coming soon: new images inspired by the campaign – keep a good eye out for the latest from the Toilet Paper team.


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The inspiration is mystical as well as artistic. Physical qualities aside, the eye is considered the gateway to our inner world. A “third eye” is thought to sit in between the two eyes. In India a bindi traditionally marks this spot, the sixth chakra, although fashion has long since appropriated the bindi for its own. 

Another historical eye motif can be spotted in Queen Elizabeth I of England’s famous Rainbow Portrait. In this official royal portrait painted in the late 16th century, the monarch wears a gown embroidered with eyes and ears, signifying an omnipotent queen who sees all and hears all. On another level, the eye also sets Her Majesty apart from what came before, demarcating her intention to break with the established order: the overriding reference here is to the queen’s motto “video et taceo” (“I see, and say nothing”). Elizabeth I was more moderate than her predecessors and warlord neighbors, preferring to lend her attention to the theater renaissance and feats of naval prowess rather than religious repressions and conquests. It almost brings a tear to the eye…


Shifting our gaze ahead to the 18th century, the all-seeing eye of the Illuminati and the Freemasons continues to inspire modern-day artistes, cropping up on music videos, album covers and photo shoots. The all-seeing eye looking down from the top of a pyramid appears on the American dollar bill and symbolizes the omniscience of these supposed secret societies. The symbol is referenced by “illuminated” celebrities, who hide one eye or place their fingers around it to form a six. Although not affiliated with the organization that has supposedly been plotting world domination for centuries, the stars have appropriated the symbol in a similar way to the V for victory, to celebrate their success in the cutthroat entertainment industry. Fortunately, the runway is more interested in looking the part than secret handshakes. As the apple of our eye this season, the motif is open to interpretation!