Fashion! Turn to the leftover paper clothes.

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.

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Above four images courtesy


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…

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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

Hussein Chalayan Airmail Dress


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.

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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.”


Having worked in design for the past decade, Daniel started as a discussion of timeless, modernist product design. Trained as a graphic designer, he also has an avid interest in typography. You can follow him on Twitter @ateliertally.