Optical Illusion Dresses on Celebrities

That women will stop at nothing to artificially achieve the perfect silhouette is not breaking news. How they do it, however, is ever-changing. In the past, undergarments did the bulk of the work, from whale-bone corsets to Real Housewives-designed faux Spanx; women's waists have been nipped, tucked, and cinched underneath their clothes in every which way. But now, thanks to a slew of optical-illusion dresses hitting red carpets and runways, the dresses are drawing the curves.

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At the Venice Film Festival in early September, Kate Winslet (left) pulled off a seemingly antithetical miracle: Wearing a clever skintight shift dress from Stella McCartney's fall 2011 collection, the Oscar-winning actress appeared to be curvier and thinner. The secret to Winslet's dress was ingenious color blocking-black side panels gave her a high, tiny waist that, when added to the white panel around her bust, gave her an hourglass figure that'd turn Jessica Rabbit green with envy.

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Winslet's not the only one to have discovered McCartney's magic: LaLa Vazquez sported the same shift dress on Live With Regis and Kelly this month, and X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger wore it on the cover of August's InStyle UK. (Even Gloria Estefan,right, chose it for an interview on Extra, but the loose fit hindered its considerable slimming powers.)

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This summer, Penélope Cruz (left) walked the Croisette at Cannes in a blue velvet version of the optical-illusion dress-the same one worn by British television host Louise Redknapp (middle) at the GQ Awards in London this month-while Liv Tyler (right) accentuated her curves in yet another McCartney dress in June, this time in blue.

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Of course, McCartney's not the only one putting the "op waist" to work. Earlier this year, Kim Kardashian (left) was hypnotic in a black-and-white moiré-print dress by Alexander McQueen, the same one Victoria Beckham (right) wore in 2009. The illusion had a remarkable duality, making Beckham look voluptuous and turning Kardashian's figure positively lithe.

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