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Prêt-à-Papier or Couture Paper: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

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For over 15 years, inspired by the rich history of fashion represented in European paintings, famous costumes in museum collections and haute couture designs, the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave has turned her passion for painting toward the recreation of elaborate costumes -- crumpling, pleating, painting and sculpting the surface of ordinary paper -- to achieve the effect of textiles and create the illusion of haute couture.

A selection of iconic dresses reinterpreted in trompe l'oeil paper masterpieces is presented in the exhibition Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, currently on view for the first time at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington, DC. More than 25 of de Borchgrave's quintessential interpretations of historical costumes and haute couture dresses, with six new pieces made for this exhibition -- including one commissioned solely for Hillwood -- will be on display.

From the lavish apparel of the Russian imperial family and 18th century French aristocracy to turn-of-the-century fashion designers Mariano Fortuny and Charles Frederick Worth, discover the extraordinary paper sculptures of Isabelle de Borchgrave.

Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

Installation view

  Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
 Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
Pompadour Dress
 Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
Pink Dress, costume realized at the occasion of the installation of the Marie Antoinette Bathroom at the Palace of Versailles. Inspired by ca. 1776 engraving in the collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
 Ballerine, Black with Red Ribbons
Photo © Pauline de Borchgrave
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
 Callot Soeurs Dress based on c. 1908 design
Photo © Andreas von Einsiedel
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
 Fortuny Light Green Dress
Photo © Alain Speltdoorn
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
Fortuny Orange Dress, after late 19th century design
Photo © Jean-Pierre Gabriel
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
 Lanvin Dress based on 1924 period in spirit of Chinese prints and lacquers. painted to resemble diamanté and bead embroidery
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
Peter the Great dress based on c. 1730 design
Photo © Andreas von Einsiedel
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
 French 18th Century dress à la Polonaise. The patterns come from a costume at the Kyoto Costume Institute and the shape of the dress is from an etching by Antoine-Jean Ducios, c.1760, based on a painting by Augustin de Saint-Aubin
Photo © Alain Speltdoorn
Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museums and Gardens
© Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave
Redfern Dress based on 1924 Redfern ofLondon dress


Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave
June 16 - December 30, 2012




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