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Staircase of Illusions

by Art U News

By Anthony Corona

B.F.A. fashion design student Jacqueline Liu. Photo by Danielle Rueda.

We’ve all downloaded a game or two on our phones to save us in moments of desperation on a commute. Games can both distract us and help us occasionally kill time. B.F.A. fashion design student Jacqueline Liu felt so strongly about one of these games that she decided to use it as her main source of inspiration for her senior collection

“Monument Valley” is a puzzle game that immerses you in a storyline where the player leads Princess Ida, a character whose figure is simplified to basic geometric shapes, through a series of staircase mazes, formed by optical illusions and impossible objects. It was these elements that charmed the Academy of Art University School of Fashion student. 

Part of the classification of an optical illusion is to be deceiving. They make you question things to the point where you become obsessive over the shapes of the blueprint and wonder how you define what is both possible and impossible. In the case of “Monument Valley,” the impossible property is the combination of staircases, inspired by the drawings of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. 

Using the steps of a staircase as a design element, Liu imagined herself as Princess Ida, climbing the stages of everyday difficulties in the endless pursuit of perfection. “The design elements I took from the game were the staircases, but also the rich colors the game provides,” she said. “Life may be hard, but it is also so colorful.” The color patterns of the collection are vibrant and intense, with uplifting schemes that include yellows, oranges, and blues. They are vivid yet they offer a sense of clarity. 

Looking at Liu’s collection, it’s almost like stepping into the game yourself. Gowns have sophisticated cuts, enhanced with embellished shoulder details, and precise imitations of staircases grace different areas of the garments. These intricate silhouettes, like mazes and optical illusions, defy the laws of geometry, which Liu had no issue translating into her own design language. Her collection is a mind puzzle that makes you wonder why you’re running so fast, and whether you’ve stopped to see the colors of the world.

The illustrated lineup of Liu’s senior collection. Image courtesy of the designer.

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