The Art of Pulp Fashion


In celebration of Halloween just next week I wanted to share an individual, who to me, inspires innovative costume design. Isabelle de Borchgrave is a creative genius. I believe that few people in the world are as talented and/or clever as her. Isabelle's raw talent literally recreates history in a three dimensional art form by way of strips of paper and bowls of glue. This is exceptional artistry.

On a trip to San Fransisco I came across a street sign for an art exhibit called "Pulp Fashion" at the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum. After a brief cab ride up a very long hill with some amazing postcard views, I found myself at the museum. Let me start by saying that I'm a bit of a costume lover. No, let me try that again, I'm a bit of a costume snob. My heart flutters and melts at the sight of costumes. Ever since I was teeny weenie, I've always handmade my own, and attending special arts schools and studying theatre I spent a lot of my time working on my performance skills and the rest working in backstage costume shops. Costumes are a conversation. They are individual works of art that incorporate historical elements, emotions, methodical planning, visual interest and specific story telling skills. They are not just elements of fabric slapped on someone's body. Costumes, no matter what they are designed for, should never just stop at the clothing. They should incorporate the hair, the jewellery, the make-up and the accessories. Each piece handselected and/or recreated based on craftmanship and research. So much goes into making a truly well orchestrated costume.

Artist Isabelle de Borchgrave and her "pulp fashion" embodies all that costume design is (to me), but on a more innovative and heighten level. With her background in visual art and textile painting, she pays tribute to some of histories most famous fashion moments in exquisite detail out of mere sheets of well placed paper. She has created historical replicas – perfect in every detail – out of varieties of paper and acrylic paint. She has crafted shoes, jewellery and home decor, out of sheets of paper.  It's not just the visual that gets you when you see her work, it's the emotion, texture, the bends and folds,  hand painted patterns and braided layered elements, that you only notice over time that makes these creations so jaw dropping. Every detailed element, including the set design for her shows is custom-made of paper. I feel fortunate to have found the time to visit this exhibit, and am even more grateful for the gift shop coffee table picture book – my prized souvenir. I have to say, if there was ever a fire, one of the things I would surely be grabbing on my way out, is her design book.


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