A dip-dyeing technique frequently used in fashion results in fabric where one color is gradually blended into another color or a tint/shade of one color is blended from light to dark. Clothing with this beautiful coloring that can be evocative of a sunset or a misty horizon where sky merges with landscape is referred to as ombré clothing or dégradé clothing.
Is there a difference between ombré and dégradé ?
Ombré ? Dégradé ? So, what is the difference in these terms … if any? It might help to note that both words are French in origin. Dégradé is from dégrader which for colors means, to shade into one another. In reference to light, dégrader means to reduce gradually. Ombré is from ombrer which for colors means to darken or to shade. (Even though ombre without the accent is frequently used to mean the color gradient, ombre and ombré are entirely different things. Technically, to mean the color term you must include the acute accent (´), or l’accent aigu.)
If somewhere there is written a precise definition differentiating these terms, for the vernacular, everyday use it has become a distinction without a difference and the lines are as blurred as an ombré (or dégradé ) demarcation line.
Not to get too much into color theory but the basic configurations are – colors can be blended with black (shaded), blended with white (tinted), mixed with grey (tonal) or two or more different colors (hues) blended for the ombré effect.
Light blue tinted with white to produce an ombré gradient.
Shaded gradient from dark to light in black and blue
Blue-green and yellow ombré cloth. To learn how to dye fabric like this or to just see how this was made visit: How to Dye Fabric: Ombre Dip Dye Technique
Definition of ombré : having colors or tones that shade into each other – used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to darkMerriam-Webster
Some variations can be with 3 or more shade/ tonal areas of a single color or 3 or more hues/colors for a rainbow effect.
Tri-tonal, single hue ombré fabric
Rainbow ombré fabric
The color gradation can be combined with prints or textures or with other fabric finishing techniques such as batik and devoré or burnout.
Ombré Clothing from the Fashion Runway
Often seen on the runway and subsequently at fashion retailers, ombré dyed items are a favorite of designers.
Ombré shading in other creative and design areas
Fashion designers not only use fabric made by this dyeing process to make ombré clothing but use ombré shading in all manner of accessories – including shoes, handbags and jewelry. Ombré shading is also used in home goods and interior design, make-up and even cake frosting.
Finally, you might have heard the terms dégradé or ombré used in contexts outside of design, clothing and accessories. Dégradé is a term uses to describe a layered haircut and ombré coloring is a hair dyeing technique.
Images: etsy.com, modes4u.com, bandjfabrics.com, vogue.com, pinterest.com, onlinefabricstore.net