Dresses Made of Vintage Books and Comics Expose Stereotypes

Donna Rosenthal paper dresses

New York based artist Donna Rosenthal deconstructs old comic books, cookbooks, magazines, romance novels and more only to reconstruct them as dresses embellished with hand embroidery, lace and beading. By combining the content of the materials with pithy text on the bodices, she is making a statement, often humorous, about the effects of traditional and societal influences on the lives of women.

Donna Rosenthal Paper Dresses

Donna Rosenthal paper dresses
In Full Bloom
In Full Bloom (detail)

Donna Rosenthal paper dresses are more than just impressive examples of crafting paper fashions, they are sculptures that expose gender stereotypes and the roles often cast upon women. In her own words, the artist says “I use text, repetition, and the cultural symbolism of clothing to expose the struggles between the internal and external self.”

Below are several of our favorites.

paper fashions

paper dresses

maybe paper dress

paper art
Master of Her Fate
safe and sound paper dress
Safe and Sound
dress made of paper
Diamond In the Rough
paper dresses artist Donna Rosenthal

song title paper dresses
Song Titles

Artist’s Statement:
artist Donna Rosenthal
artist Donna Rosenthal

I observe and examine the nature of relationships, gender roles, and social positions. Using text, repetition, and the cultural symbolism of clothing, I reveal the struggles between the internal and external self, exposing the distinctions, expectations, conflicts, and joys that exist for individuals and between the sexes. As a child, I was surrounded by untraditional art and craft materials in my parents’ window display store. Sequins, glitter, antiques, display cases, mannequins, and a host of sparkly wonders triggered my imagination, and played an important role in my artistic interpretation, the content of the work, and the development of my own personal language.

I spend considerable time collecting materials that bridge the gap between art and craft. Nothing is exempt as an art-making tool. I am drawn to anything fabric-like, most often deconstructing vintage textiles and printed papers. Magazines, comic books, cookbooks, romance novels, music sheets and atlases, to name a few, are transformed into entirely different forms by cutting, folding, sewing, and gluing. My metal series also blurs the lines, and I knit and crochet granny squares and bolts of “fabric” from a variety of metal wires, creating my own patterns that I bend, sew, and manipulate into sculpture. Each piece, paper and metal, is then embellished with embroidery, trim, buttons, costume jewelry, and glitter. Often, I use found objects or vintage furnishings along with crochet and embellishment, and these are often completed with paint, or silver, gold, and copper leaf.

These beautifully adorned images are intended to attract, enticing the viewer to look closer and examine all elements of the work. The depth of thought and process, and the combination of material, technique, and text, is used to create work that is emotional, psychological, and historical, with many complicated layers and multiple meanings. As all art is a form of communication, the language I use is a tool for social commentary and awareness. With carefully chosen text as the finishing element, the work takes on its own identity, alternately tender, ironic, humorous, pointed and powerful. In this final connection with the viewer lies the challenge; to recognize and redefine notions of identity and personal choices.

The artist is represented by the following galleries:

Donna Rosenthal

all images courtesy of the artist