Pulp Fashion - The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

Please someone, beam me across the country, as I'd like to see Pulp Fashion, an exhibit currently on display at the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco.

Marie Claire de Croy and Child, after the painting by Van Dyck, 2010

Isabelle de Borchgrave is a Belgian artist with a love of costumes and textiles. By painting and shaping simple rag paper, she creates astonishingly opulent costumes. some of which are designs extracted from historical paintings. The collection includes examples that span from the Renaissance to the early 20th century.

Photo courtesy Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave

Here's Isabelle (far left), at work with collaborators on a piece of paper "fabric" that is based on Massimo Stanzione’s painting, Woman in Neapolitan Costume.

Neapolitan Woman, 2010, after Stanzione's ca. 1635 portrait

Though her work has been widely shown in Europe, this is the first time it has been seen as an entire exhibition in America. Isabelle began the sixty piece collection in 1994, and each dress takes at least several weeks to create. What's especially wonderful for the viewer, is being able to see a painting brought to life, so to speak, in all three dimensions.


18th century men wore gorgeous brocade coats, but these are paper, of course, as are all of the accessories and smallest finishing touches in Isabelle's body of work... lace, buttons, and jewelry.

The Medici family of the Renaissance

The exhibit closes on June 5, but if you can't be there in person, this excellent documentary [edit: no longer available] is truly the next best thing to being there.

photos via the Legion of Honor website, except as noted.
Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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