It’s easy to mark the beginning of a style obsession when you have a blog and a search feature. The design*sponge lust for ombré can be traced back to the 2008 “Mini Trend: Ombré “ and Grace revisited the trend just last week. Even in 2008, it seemed like ombré was already everywhere. So it was a bit surprising when I had a bit of trouble turning up much about the history.
Image above: We Like It Wild: Late Summer Gradation
Image above: $400
It turns out that the word ombré is relatively new. In French, it means shaded or shadow, but in decorative arts it refers to a graduated color scheme that moves from light to dark. It’s not a new concept – it’s one that nature perfected. But historically, it refers to a method of dyeing fabric. The first recorded use of the word as a dying technique was in 1841, but didn’t even enter the Oxford English Dictionary until 2005.
To bring the ombré look home, you can try your hand at dip-dying fabrics or paper cups. I’m planning on making an ombré fade cake for Valentine’s Day. There are also plenty of ombré options in stores.
Image above: Vase by Miyashita Zenji, 2001 from
In textiles, you can achieve the ombré fade through dip dying. The same effect can be achieved in glass or ceramics. In ceramics, Japanese artist Miyashita Zenji has perfected the art of saidei – a technique of applying overlapping, irregular and extremely thin bands of tinted clay in graduated hues from top to bottom to create a graduated color scheme.
Image above: We Like It Wild: Dip Dye Cups
I was a little surprised and disappointed to not turn up much more on this new word and trend. (However, it seems that if you’re looking for ombré hairstyles, you have a lot of options.) If you have any sources to contribute, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll keep digging. In the meantime, enjoy the color fade!
Image above: DIY Project: Dip-Dye Lamp & Pillow
Image above: 1. 2. $194.95-304.95$245 3. $46 4. $28 5. $420 6. $14 7. $29.40 8. $4-10
Image above, from left: $39 and $32