Fashion Art From Paper, Isabelle de Borchgrave

Recently I went on a fashion journey to the Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas. An exhibit called Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper.

Isabelle de Borchgrave, who creates magnificent paper recreations from historical costumes, is from Belgium. She creates life-size sculptures full of color, pattern, and texture.

She uses the technique called trompe l’oeil (French for “fools the eye”) in all her sculptures. The effect of this technique misleads you into thinking you are looking at textile fabrics instead of painted paper. Incredible.

She uses acrylic paints, ink, metallic powder, and adhesive on paper mounted on wire armatures or mannequins.

From replicas of Renaissance Italian gowns to recreations of costumes of the Ballet, Isabelle de Borchgrave’s work is meticulously detailed and breathtaking.

This exhibition explores 300 years of fashion history. Her sculptures have been featured around the world. I am pleased we had the opportunity to view the works of this wonderful artist in our city.

With so many gowns in display, it was difficult for me to choose any item in particular. I love the history and splendor of the Italian Renaissance, therefore the representation of the Medici family tree with her paper sculptures collection was undoubtedly my favorite.

Lorenzo il Magnifico

Even upon close inspection it was difficult to distinguish that the costumes were made of paper.

According to Isabelle, this series was the most complicated she had done so far and presented a particular challenge, interpreting the seated portraits into standing paper figures. She worked over a year with ten studio assistants to create 30 elaborate paper sculptures in detail with jewelry, shoes and accessories. One dress featured 4,000 hand-painted baroque pearls.

I have no words to describe the wonderful work of this Belgian artist.

The collection will be moving to several museums around the United States this year. If Isabelle de Borchgrave’s Fashioning Art from Paper Collection comes near you and you have the opportunity to attend you won’t be disappointed.

I hope you enjoyed the trompe l’oeil experience. Please remember to follow.

Until next time,



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