Let me start by saying… what you are looking at is made of paper! Now, that I’ve got your attention, prepare to be amazed at the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave.
Paper Couture by Isabelle de Borchgrave
From the Medicis to Marie Antoinette to Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress, Isabelle de Borchgrave has made paper emulate the most incredible fabrics and fashions from all over the world. One has to look twice to realize that the formal gowns, ornate jackets – even shoes – on mannequins are not actually made from velvet, silks and satins.
Sumptuous and detailed, it’s hard to believe they are crafted of hand-painted rag paper. Whether she is recreating an outfit from 16th century paintings or creating one for a modern day ad campaign, the craftsmanship and detail in everything from the shoes to the hairpieces will take your breath away.
Her works include paper recreations of Renaissance costumes of the Medici family, gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette, the fashions of Fortuny (known for their pleats) and the designs of grand couturiers Fredrick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior and Coco Chanel.
Some examples of her Medici fashions:
Gowns worn by legendary European 15th and 16th century historical figures including Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette:
Jackie Kennedy’s Wedding Dress:
A series of dresses realized with suede wall coverings for the Antelope Collection by Arte International in 2010:
For her present exhibit, Pulp Fashions, at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, she chose four famous paintings from their collection and recreated the fashions within them. Below are two examples:
The Belgian artist is a painter by training, but textile and costume are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave crafts a world of splendor from the simplest rag paper.
Painting and manipulating the paper, she forms trompe l’oeil masterpieces of elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world.
The Paper Dress of Eleonora de Toledo, 1522-1562 (above) was inspired by a portrait of Bronzino (Gallery of Uffizi, Firenze) and began with a sketch, followed with the hand-painting of the fabric in her studio to yield the final masterpiece:
At present, The Legion of Honor in San Francisco is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave, although her creations have been widely displayed in Europe.
Pulp Fashion draws on several themes and presents quintessential examples in the history of costume—from Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the creations of the grand couturiers Frederick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel. Special attention is given to the creations and studio of Mariano Fortuny, the eccentric early-20th-century artist who is both a major source of inspiration to de Borchgrave and a kindred spirit.
Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, February 5, 2011 – June 5, 2011
A special thanks to my very hip parents who told me about Isabelle de Borchgrave and her work!