When my boyfriend first saw this dress, he said it reminded him of a WWI battleship. Not exactly the compliment I was hoping for when I picked it out... His further explanation of "razzle dazzle" was met with a blank stare as well. Maybe he was trying to tell me he didn't like the dress?
With the help of Google, I began to understand. Dazzle camouflage or "Razzle Dazzle" was a paint scheme used on WWI battleships. Unlike most camouflage, its purpose was not to conceal the object by making it blend into its background— impossible to do on an ever-changing ocean— but to make it difficult to determine the true size, shape, direction, and speed of the vessel. The geometric patterns work like an optical illusion.
Dazzle painting is no longer effective camouflage because of advanced military technology, but there is still great interest in the designs because of their striking aesthetic quality. The Rhode Island School of Design showed a collection of the dazzle paintings of Maurice L. Freedman in 2009, and was quickly sold out of all posters from the exhibition. The images below should give you an idea of why they were so popular. Part blueprint, part modern art— I would hang these on my wall in a second.
Maybe dazzle dresses will be the next step in paying homage to this innovative and beautiful technology...