Yes, These Dresses Are Made From Paper

February 8, 2017 by Erin Behan

    
Though it may be hard to imagine in our current performance fabric-obsessed world, dresses made out of paper — yes paper! — were once a fad big enough to have companies like Mars Hosiery scrambling to keep up with production demands.

Yes, These Dresses Are Made of Paper
The mid-to-late 60s saw paper dresses in all shapes and prints hit the market as cheap, hip, accessible fashion. They were made by Hallmark to match paper plates and placemats, and they were celebrated as mod symbols, like the Poster Dress from American graphic artist Harry Gordon. Even Andy Warhol got into the act with his Souper Dress. At the time, the simple, often A-line shift could be bought for as little as $3 and was meant to be worn as long as cigarettes and beverages were kept at bay.

While the pop paper dress craze fizzled out with the end of the 60s, artists and designers haven't lost the creative spark for fashioning dresses and clothing out of paper, although today the paper dresses are more often meant as works of art to walk the runway or be shown off in a museum and not for everyday wear.

Yes, These Dresses Are Made of Paper
One of the more famous paper dress makers of the moment is artist Zoe Bradley, known as the "paper princess." She's made a name for herself by fashioning beautifully complex dresses from paper in all manner of hues since 2005.

Bradley has crafted intricate window designs featuring eye-catching dresses made out of paper for Donna Karen, Harrods, Selfridges, and more and done advertising and editorial work that highlight her magic touch with all things paper. She's also worked with fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen.

Yes, These Dresses Are Made of Paper
Another who has used paper in conjunction with the fashion world is Brazilian fashion designer Jum Nakao. He created an intricate line of paper dresses called "The Sewing of the Invisible" for Sao Paulo's Fashion Week in 2004, spending 700 hours to make the clothing from paper, utilizing manual cuts, laser cuts, origami and more. The designs were worn for only a few minutes before being torn up on the catwalk, a reminder that "that materiality doesn't matter," as he said in an interview with The Creators Project.

Among other projects, Nakao worked with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in LA in 2014 to create a dress out of the script pages of Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette." You can watch it come to life in this short movie.

Artist Isabelle de Borchgrave took her paper dress inspiration from a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. That 1994 experience propelled her into creating paper costumes that look at fashion through various ages, from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel and beyond. She uses trompe l'oeil techniques to recreate historical costumes and offer up fashion history alongside a heady dose of "I can’t believe that's made out of paper."

Yes, These Dresses Are Made of Paper
For an even more luscious look, DIY designer Lia Griffith uses extra fine crepe paper to craft her gorgeous paper dresses. Griffith got her start by walking eager crafters through the process of making delicate and very realistic looking paper flowers, everything from cosmos to peonies. And if anything her dresses are a reflection of her work with flowers. Of the aubergine and sangria-colored dress pictured above, she says on her website, "My inspiration for this dress was certainly floral, and I wanted this gown to resemble a big beautiful bloom."

Yes, These Dresses Are Made of Paper
If all this high paper dress art has you feeling like such designs are just out of reach, consider this then 4-year-old (she's now 6 and you can catch up with her at Fashion by Mayhem) who became an internet sensation after photos of the paper dress creations she and her mother crafted together went viral. Yep, we're all officially out of excuses, so let's buy a bunch of paper and get creative.

SHOP for paper and cardstock at DistinctPapers.com.


Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.

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