Isabelle de Borchgrave has married fashion with paper.
The Belgian artist turned her talent for trompe l’oeil paintings (the art technique of using realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the objects depicted exist in 3D) into elaborate papercraft. Her paper sculptures appear as life-sized garments. By crumpling, pleating, braiding and painting on rag paper, de Borchgrave has achieved the uncanny effect of fabric (such as lace, brocade, silk and elaborate embroidery) which she uses to create the illusion of haute couture.
Her paper sculptures recreate nearly 300 years of fashion, from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. Working with fashion historian, Rita Brown, de Borchgrave created Papiers à la Mode, a collection of historical costumes in paper and paint. Her past collections have included an 19th century Venetian-inspired line, a look at the famous figures of I Medici (an opera set in Renaissance Italy) and a study of the Ballet Russes (costumes made for the early 20th c. ballet company).
In her latest show, “Prêt-à-Papier : The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave“, she presents a range of styles from the late 17th to the early 20th century. The venue, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C., hosts the vast collection of the late Post cereal empress and art collector, Marjorie Merriweather Post. Through living in the Soviet Union with her ambassador husband (third of four husbands) during the 1930s, Post became a comprehensive collector of all things 18th and 19th century Russian monarchy.
The Hillwood exhibition features more than 25 of de Borchgrave’s interpretations of historical costumes and haute couture dresses, with six new works made for the exhibition, including one commissioned solely for Hillwood. For that dress, the artist replicates the details of the main figure’s dress in Karl Briullov’s “The Countess Samoilova”. The dress is displayed in front of the grand-scale painting that inspired it. Other replicas include the costumes of Tsar Peter the Great and Empress Josephine, which convincingly mimic brocades, damasks and silks.
And you felt pretty good about that origami crane you made.
Here’s a video:
“Prêt-à-Papier : The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave” is on display at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C. from June 16th 2012 to December 30th 2012.