Paper Dolls...

by - Sunday, January 30, 2011

When my mother was a little girl, she often played with paper dolls, exchanging carefully cut clothing with her girlfriends. Endless hours were enjoyed in the imaginary world created by her scissors and these magical cut-outs. As an adult, mom has safely tucked away the dolls in a shoebox. What if creativity can take this pastime to another level of artistry where paper is cut, folded, and painted on the way to being transformed into shimmering visions of beautiful clothing and luxurious living?

This is the art of Belgian painter, designer, and interior decorator Isabelle de Borchgrave.

Recognized for her elegant and classic artistry, Isabelle has become a name readily associated with fashion and paper, closely linked to the world of design. She has worked together with Caspari, creating painted fabrics and paper, dinner services, curtains, sheets and decor with a personal touch for parties and even weddings.
Isabelle's story begins in a little house in Sablon, which she turned into a studio. There, she gave drawing classes to her friends’ children and other neighborhood children. Liberated to think about her own designs, she surrounded herself with processions of hand-painted clothes, rolls of fabrics strewn about, pigments, brushes, gouaches, canvasses, pastels and travel journals. Following a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1994, Isabelle dreamed up paper costumes. While keeping her brushes in hand and her paintings in mind, she worked on four big collections, all in paper and trompe l’œil, each of which set the scene for a very different world. “Papiers à la Mode” (Paper in Fashion), the first, took a fresh look at 300 years of fashion with historical authenticity, combined with startling realism. Causing an overnight sensation when they were first shown in France in 1998, the dynamic, light-hearted collection has traveled all over the world and achieved critical acclaim many times over.
Although a painter by training, textile and costume are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave crafts a world of splendor from the simplest rag paper. Painting and manipulating the paper, she forms trompe l’oeil masterpieces of elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world with astonishing details.
Yet in a 40-year career, she has never put aside the thing that has always guided her in her life: painting. She still exhibits her paintings and her large folded paper works all over the world and produced three books. With an imagination increasingly stimulated by her knowledge and interpretation of art, Isabelle, a follower of the Nabis movement, has a fresh perspective of a world that "flies around her like a dream".
The Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave, although her creations have been widely displayed in Europe over the years. Pulp Fashion draws on several themes and presents quintessential examples in the history of costume—from Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the creations of the grand couturiers Frederick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel. Special attention is given to the creations and studio of Mariano Fortuny, the eccentric early-20th-century artist who is both a major source of inspiration to de Borchgrave and a kindred spirit.

The exhibit opens at the Legion February 5th and runs through June 5th. Paper dolls a cut above the rest... xoxo-Sonya

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