Something happened in the 1960s. Fashion really pushed boundaries… Mary Quant’s mini-skirts, go-go boots and PVC clothing. But there was another fashion craze that swept, well almost, the nation: paper clothes. Even Andy Warhol was not safe, having his work repurposed onto paper: “The Souper Dress/No Cleaning/ No Washing/ It’s carefree fire resistant unless washed or cleaned/To refreshen, press lightly with warm iron/80% Cellulose, 20% Cotton” so reads the label in the back of this icon.
The Souper Dress, after Warhol, by Campbell’s Soup Company, New Jersey, 1968. Photo: Panos Davios. © ATOPOS collection. Courtesy Barbican International Enterprises
A touring exhibition is currently showing some paper dresses from the 1960s to present day including the Souper Dress (1968) after Andy Warhol; the Yellow Pages paper dress; paper dresses from the 1968 US election campaigns; and the Poster Dresses by American graphic designer Harry Gordon. It is unclear if this exhibition will make it to London, but I do hope so as it looks incredible.
Above four images courtesy unnouveauideal.typepad.com
More recently Hussein Chalayan explored paper clothing in his 1998 collection with the ‘Airmail dress’ (seen below) which has seen a cheaper version in Topshop but this still impresses me…
Image © Phillips de Pury & Company
‘Airmail Dress’, 1998
Tyvek. 119.5 x 66 cm. (47 x 26 in.)
Self-produced, UK. One of three signed examples from the edition of 200.
Reverse of envelope signed in pencil with artist’s signature and ‘3 / 3 30/03/06’.
Sold for £8,125 by Phillips de Pury & Company
Lastly, I wanted to explore an even more eccentric paper clothing maker, Isabelle de Borchgrave, who makes period costumes using paper. These are mind-blowing; the detail that she has gone to to create these outfits are truly the most compelling thing I have seen this year (okay, so it’s only February but they are still great).
I can only imagine how wonderful they must look up close, so if anyone has seen these, do let me know as I would really like to hear more about them.
Gilet d’homme, 1760.
Men’s cardigan in paper created for the exhibition Papiers à la Mode in Japan in September 2001. Photography by René Stoeltie.
Robe à la Française, 1780.
Paper dress called “à la française” inspired by a dress from the Collection Kyoto Costume Institute. Created in June 1998. Photography by René Stoeltie.
Both images © Isabelle de Borchgrave
I leave you now with these images and hope that you enjoyed exploring paper with us all week. A special thank you goes to Mieke ten Have for guest blogging this week and also to Shelf Appeal who helped me prepare this paper clothes post – her research is endlessly useful.
I leave you with a short video from the BBC… an episode of Tomorrow’s world showing paper clothes in the 1960s and then discussing them in the 1980s, featuring Wayne Hemingway…
“There’s a brand new dance, but I don’t know its name. There’s a brand new talk, but it’s not very clear.”