Summer’s Photo-Realism Print Trend Is Just Getting Started

Picture perfect.

Photo-realism prints
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Fact: The next two months are about having frivolous fun and enjoying life to the fullest. And it makes sense if your fashion taste in the summer reflects this easygoing mindset, too. Slogan tees, seashell jewelry — fortunately, there’s no shortage of silly, not-so-serious pieces to dabble in this season. But arguably the most unexpected, quirkiest trend of them all? Photo-realism prints. Yes, the emerging look is exactly how it sounds — styles splashed with graphics that resemble actual images or artwork.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to discuss realistic-looking prints without first bringing up Jean Paul Gaultier — a purveyor of the trend, having been churning out one illusion look after the next since the ‘90s (see: the brand’s iconic face prints). On a similar note, in 2021, Heaven by Marc Jacobs made waves when it dropped its internet-famous Kirsten Dunst-emblazoned styles (pulling imagery from Sofia Coppola’s cult ‘90s film The Virgin Suicides). London-based brand Elliss, too, helped bring graphic looks to the forefront of fashion with its signature black and white collage prints (which are inspired by magazines from the ‘30s to the ‘70s).

This year, Lucy Reed, the founder of up-and-coming label ENNA Studios, is leading the charge on the campy trend. Launching her brand three years ago, the first year she was enrolled at the famed Central Saint Martins, the London-based designer sources imagery from her parent’s old photo albums or via her own photography work from recent travels. “I prioritize color and composition but equally consider how each print represents a memory captured in time, which is shared and personalized for the wearer,” she tells TZR about her looks, which run the gamut from picturesque scenery to a plate of breakfast foods. Wearable art, if you will.

Ahead, take a look at how the style set is donning bold graphic prints this summer.

So Starstruck

Is that ... Kirsten Dunst? Why yes, it is. Leave it to edgy-cool label Heaven By Marc Jacobs to make the one-of-a-kind The Virgin Suicides collection so in demand — that’s right, every fashion person was talking about the line when it launched. Should you have gotten your hands on a piece, pair it with an elevated basic à la influencer Tina Leung. And if not? You can still source it on resale sites like Depop.

Horsing Around

Horse girls, gather around! It seems equestrian-inspired pieces are having (another) moment this summer, and this motif from Tyler McGillivary is such a cute way to partake in the trend. Simply elevate the style with your accessories — strappy sandals or ballet flats, a dainty necklace, and everyday gold hoops will all do the trick. Yee-haw.

Take A Trip

If a far-flung getaway isn’t doable this year, wearing a dress detailed with a scenic image, be it blue skies or the desert, is the next best thing. Let the statement-making number do all the talking by opting for pared-back lace-up sandals and a simple bag.

Breakfast Is Served

Don’t just eat your hearty, savory breakfast foods — wear ‘em. That seemed to be what was on Reed’s mind when designing this mouthwatering-worthy pattern, which boasts a sunny-side-up egg, roasted tomatoes, and some sort of meat. Turn up the fun factor with an avocado-shaped necklace from the Joe & The Juice and Agmes collaboration. From there, ground the smile-inducing look with sheer knee-high tights and Mary Jane flats.

Butterfly Fly Away

This April, fashion maven Kendall Jenner sported Jean Paul Gaultier’s archival Papillon print, which was the inspiration behind its newest collection, TRÈS GAULTIER. The supermodel styled the two-piece look with sleek accents, including rectangular gold hoops and a neutral shoulder bag.