Ombré Clothing, Dégradé Clothing in Fashion

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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.

Elie Saab Ombre´ Gown Spring 2014 Couture, ombre dress, degrade clothing, dégradé clothing
Elie Saab Ombre´ Gown Spring 2014 Couture

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.

Ombré Coloring

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.

blue and white ombre swatch

Shaded gradient from dark to light in black and blue

black, blue, graduated color

Blue-green and yellow omb 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

ombre´ dip-dyed fabric, ombre cloth, yellow, blue

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 dark

Merriam-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

three tint rows geadient

Rainbow ombré fabric

dégradé ombre´, degrade ombre

The color gradation can be combined with prints or textures or with other fabric finishing techniques such as batik and devoré or burnout.

Animal Print Ombre´ Fabric
Animal Print Ombre´ Fabric, Lilac Tints
woodland and wild flower print, green and navy
Studio E Fabrics Woodland Wonders Wildflower Print Ombré Green and Navy Fabric
dégradé ombre´, degrade ombre, Ombre´ Lime Green Batik Fabric
Ombre´ Lime Green Batik Fabric by Robert Kaufman
dégradé ombre´, degrade ombre, fashion, fabric
Silk and Lurex Ombré Burnout Velvet

Ombré Clothing from the Fashion Runway

Often seen on the runway and subsequently at fashion retailers, ombré dyed items are a favorite of designers.

Jonathan Simkhai Australia Resort 2020, ombre skirt. ombre wrap top, degrade clothing, dégradé clothing
Jonathan Simkhai Australia Resort 2020
Jonathan Simkhai Australia Resort 2020, ombre skirt, degrade clothing, dégradé clothing
Jonathan Simkhai Australia Resort 2020
ombre´ clothing, ombre clothing, degrade clothing, dégradé clothing, Christian Cowan x Powerpuff Collection 2019
Christian Cowan x Powerpuff Collection 2019
Elie Saab Ombre´ Dress Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear, ombre dress, degrade clothing, dégradé clothing
Elie Saab Ombre´ Dress Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

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

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