Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pret a Papier by Isabelle de Borchgrave

I am in awe of artists and creative people! I think it is wonderful that someone can sit in front of a blank canvas and create a still life painting, or pick up a violin and play a piece that would make the angels weep. Would you have imagined that a stack of paper created this stunning dress?

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave created this magnificent piece of art using paper and paint. From a young age Isabelle knew she wanted to be an artist, she would use the walls of her bedroom to draw and sketch, and when the walls were filled her mother would have them repainted white so that she could start again.

 She left school at the age of 14 to go to pursue her passion for painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Art. After stints in advertising, and interior design; an exhibition about Yves St. Laurent in New York inspired to her to invite a designer friend, Rita Browne to Belgium to collaborate on a dress made of paper, the rest as they say is history.

Isabelle's work is on display all over the world, she recreated Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress in paper for the Kennedy Library, she was invited to make a permanent display of Marie Antoinette at Versailles, and has a permanent pieces in Russia, Belgium and many other countries, as well as numerous collections touring the world. With her team of 18 assistants in her studio in Belgium the artist creates everything from shoes, to handbags, to jewelry, to dresses from every period in history.

Currently, Pret-a-Papier is on display from now until December at the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C. The pieces range from the elaborate dresses of 17th century Russia, to 18th century France and then the simple lines of the 20th century.  

I love every piece in this collection! But my favorites are the dresses from the French court, they are stunning. I have visited the Hillwood Museum website more than once to see these stunning creations and each time I do I cannot believe that they are paper! The pleats, the ruffles, and the painting are unbelievable.  I am now Isabelle's biggest fan and have spent about three hours on the web reading every article I can find and enjoying every image that is out on the web. If you think these pieces are amazing, wait until you see the pieces inspired by the Fortuny.

I have this exhibit on my list for summer and cannot wait to see it in person. I will let you know when I see it. In the meantime, if you are as captivated by Isabelle de Borchgrave as I am, you can read and see her work in more detail in her book, Paper Illusions.

Enjoy your day!

On a side note, if you would like to see some stunning paper creations from a fellow blogger than go visit Anita at Castles Crowns and Cottages. She has created the most beautiful shoes and dresses, they are works of art!


  1. I have all of Isabelle's books and just love her work. It's absolutely amazing. I met her once at the MET in NYC and what a lovely woman and so talented.


  2. Oh dearest Elizabeth, I am totally honored to be here with this phenomenal artist who I admire. Her work is outstanding and I too intend on getting my work out there to view. I just finished a wonderful piece that I have put in my Etsy shop.....and I am making more shoes....I cannot tell you how much fun I am having with paper.

    LOOK AT HER DESIGNS AND THE LITTLE SHOES! I was just cutting out a pattern yesterday to make shoes to go with my new dress!


  3. Dear friend,

    I had to come here this morning in a rush as my husband gets up and says, "LET'S GO FOR A WALK RIGHT NOW!" I am back to savor this piece.

    Like I said, I just finished my first CHEF-D'OEUVRE and it is in my Etsy shop. I am very happy with it and after making my first one in April, I finally perfected, for NOW, how to make these dresses. This artist along with Miss Clara are my muses in this art and I hope to continue to SHAPE my ideas with this art and combine it with my poetry....like a human life, daily care and practicing of our art will develop it into a masterpiece.

    Thank YOU for this wonderful post. Anita

  4. Elizabeth, This is AMAZING! True art with the most humble materials!
    I did not get a chance to tell you how much I enjoyed your peach streusel bread! I am making it for sure! I would love to feature it on the next ON THE MENU MONDAY and use one of your delicious pictures... with credit of course.
    I can't wait to make this!!!! Thanks for joining ON THE MENU MONDAY with such a great recipe!

  5. Hello, dear friend! Oh, what a glorious artist...absolutely incredible work.
    And as I began reading your post, my thoughts naturally went to Anita and her newest creation...how wonderful of you to feature her shop.
    I, too, am amazed at the infinite imagination and gifted hands of these artists...BRAVA!
    Sending love to you, and on to more of your posts!
    - Irina


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