Last weekend, while visiting family, I had the opportunity to see an extraordinary exhibit at the Frick Museum in Pittsburgh of astonishing life-sized trompe l’oeil paper art fashions by the acclaimed Belgian designer and artist, Isabelle de Borchgrave. De Borchgrave was inspired to begin making her paper sculptures in 1994 after viewing an exhibit of historical costumes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This incredible show at the Frick, entitled “Fashioning Art From Paper,” features paper art fashions from all of the major series of De Borchgrave’s dress sculptures. As you look at these amazing dresses, don’t forget that every single element including shoes, jewelry, trims, everything, is all made entirely of simple paper.
Paper Art Fashions
Fashions Á La Mode
The show begins with works from her first series entitled Fashions á la Mode. It was a collaboration with Canadian costume designer, Rita Brown. This ambitious collection seeks to interpret over 300 years of historical style from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. Since I am a huge fan of art, fashion, and history, this exhibit appealed to me on every level.
Details like lace, embroidery, and beading are all stunningly rendered in paper.
Splendors Of The Medici
Some of the most elaborate and ornate costumes come from De Borchgrave’s series Splendors Of The Medici, inspired by Renaissance paintings of the infamous family. These costumes dazzle with realistic renderings of pearls, lace, gold brocade, jewelry, and even shoes.
Special details of the paper art fashions in the Medici series include crowns, earrings, necklaces, and wigs.
Les Ballet Russes
The exhibit also has pieces from her latest collection which was inspired by modernist costumes designed for the famed ballet company, Les Ballet Russes, by artists like Picasso, Bakst, and Matisse.
House Of Fortuny and Silk Road Textiles
Other paper art fashions displayed in the exhibit include designs by the famous Spanish Design House Of Fortuny as well as a series of colorful kaftans inspired but the Silk Road textiles of Central Asia.
While each costume is a beautiful work of art in its own right, what is truly amazing is that every piece of “clothing” starts out with the same plain white paper measuring 3.3 feet by 4.9 feet. By painting, pleating, gluing, and a myriad of other techniques, De Borchgrave seems to have magically transformed ordinary paper into satin, silk, brocade, lace, and gauze fabric. The exhibit is a feast for the eyes and a lot of fun.
“Fashioning Art From Paper” will be on display at the Frick Museum in Pittsburgh until January 6, 2019. If you find yourself in the Pittsburgh area before then, I highly recommend the exhibit.
Books On The Art Of Isabelle Borchgrave
These books about Isabelle de Borchgrave’s work would make great Christmas gifts for the art or fashion lover on your list:
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