Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle De Borchgrave – Book Review

Paper is one of the most fragile of all materials and it is hard to imagine that the complex creations of Isabelle De Borchgrave are actually nothing more than paper.  Elizabethan gowns, Renaissance finery and Fortuny pleats are just some of the stunning paper dresses created in her atelier. 

The detail is unbelievable, not just in the elaborate decorations but even in the attempts to reproduce the sheen of luxury silks and satins.  This is the first published collection of her work, and is the companion to a major exhibition being held in San Francisco.  Isabelle De Borchgrave is unique in her work and style, making everything out of paper from bodices to ruffs, earrings to tiny beads. 

Each costume is a work of art that can only leave you astounded!  Even the pleated hair net accompanying the dress of Eleanora of Toledo is made out of paper.  All the dresses are based on historic designs but not all were aimed at the rich and aristocratic.  One of the most fantastic creations is Borchgrave’s version of a woman in Neapolitan costume based on a painting in the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco. 

The costume involves two intricate bodices, plus a lace collar.  The illustrations show how Borchgrave creates and builds up the costume.  An inspiring book which will definitely appeal to anyone interested in fashion, costume history, art and design.  Jill d’Alessandro’s introduction to Isabelle’s art helps put the costumes into perspective and makes it even more interesting. 

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