Looking at artists: Isabelle Borchgraves

Isabelle Borchgraves is a Belgian artist that creates fashion pieces made exclusively with paper.

Why paper and not fabric? Her work is very influenced by the arte povera, and the fact that such a simple, unsophisticated material can be transformed into something incredible and completely different as if you used fabric. Fabric is soft and expensive. That is probably the reason why she uses paper instead, because, what if goes wrong? It becomes waste. But with paper, if it goes wrong, you can scrunch it up and drop it in the bin and start again. It makes you more adventurous and it allows you to play.

My favourite shapes are the ones from her Haute Couture collection. Isabelle Borchgrave is fascinated by fashion and has worked in so many commissions in paper. From wedding dresses and veils to theatrical dresses for dancing. Her work has been shown in weddings and fashion shows several times. She has also created paper pieces for jewellery and accessories.

ROBE ANTELOPE Series of four dresses realised with suede wall coverings, signed Arte International (Antelope Collection, 2010).
ROBE ANTELOPE
Series of four dresses realised with suede wall coverings, signed Arte International (Antelope Collection, 2010).

Her work has been used for Windows of Luxury shops such as Hermés and Dior. She readapted and reinterpreted products and garments of the brand, creating a magical world on paper, shocking passers-by.

VITRINE HERMÈS HONG KONG.
Decor for Hermès shop window in 3D, 2006.
VITRINE DIOR PARIS.
Paper dress inspired by the egyptian collection of John Galliano realised in 2006.

From the Medicis to Victorian queens to Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress, Isabelle Borchgrave has emulated the most incredible fabrics and fashion designs with paper, being inspired from all over the world. You have to look twice to believe that the formal gowns, ornate jackets,shoes, belts…on mannequins are not actually made from velvet, silks and satins, but paper. She creates incredible hand painted designs, inspired by existing fabrics from dresses, the detail of the paintings and foldings is so realistic. it’s hard to believe they are crafted of hand-painted rag paper.

Her works include paper recreations of Renaissance costumes of the Medici family, gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette, the fashions of Fortuny (known for their pleats) and the designs of grand couturiers Fredrick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior and Coco Chanel.

She trained as a painter, but textile and costume are her inspiration. She works in collaboration with leading costume historians and fashion designers, she crafts a magic world full of detail in colour, texture and shape from the simplest rag paper.

Painting and manipulating the paper, she creates trompe l’oeil effect masterpieces of detailed dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world.

3 Comments

  1. Inger Weidema 4 May 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Interesting – I did not know her. Thanks for sharing this insight.

    Reply
  2. juliakwalton 7 May 2017 at 11:06 am

    I love the two dresses shown at the top of this article – very dramatic forms. Thank you for introducing this artist to us.

    Reply
  3. amardeep 8 May 2017 at 11:58 am

    Thank you

    Love the way Isabelle is adventures with paper, I really enjoy her use of delicious colour, very inspiring.

    Reply

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