Avant-Garde Paper Fashion from Curl Paper

The elaborate, imaginative wearable art designed by Curl Paper artist/owner Mandy Duncan was first featured on All Things Paper nearly a decade ago. Recently, I checked in with her to learn about all that she's been up to - as it turns out, a lot! The Curl Paper business has taken off by leaps and bounds as clients hear of it via word of mouth and Instagram.


young female model dressed in elaborate pink and silver paper outfit with very large headpiece surrounding face


As Mandy told me in 2015, "I'm a creative person so the more I work with paper the more creative my pieces become." She knows herself well, as these examples prove via their complexity and fine detail. 


woman dressed in elaborate gold and red paper floral headpiece and top with golden see-through veil over face


I asked Mandy to bring us up to date beginning with her paper art background and latest projects:


I began working with paper purely by chance... while selling handcrafts at a market stall, I was in the midst of making a paper flower out of a travel magazine when a woman came along and asked if she could she buy it. The next week I made four dozen roses and all sold!

This bit of success progressed into making paper flowers for weddings and paper hats for ladies going to the Melbourne Cup, a famous horse race held each November here in Australia. I’ve made hats for celebrities to wear at the races, selling them through a couture hat shop, The Essential Hat, located in Toorak, Melbourne.

young female model dressed in silver paper dress with red paper flower cape and headpiece

I work from my home studio in Mornington, Melbourne, Australia. The room is filled with paper creations with a worktable in the middle. I use many kinds of paper, plus glue, paint, pins, and even a sewing machine. 


I usually create an image in my head first, working out how the design can be made in paper before starting the process. It’s very rewarding to see the final piece become three-dimensional.  


young female model wearing ornate paper flower headpiece and floral cape over gold paper brassiere


I was asked to make a ballet dress out of fine paper in lilac and pink for the Australian Ballet Company. I’ve also made paper headpieces for Australian designer Camilla, known worldwide for her beautiful kaftans, for a special edition print issue of El Duende, a Madrid magazine. I’ve sent paper hats to a designer in Miami for clients going to the Kentucky Derby.


Scorpio Jin magazine cover image of young female model standing and dressed in short, vivid paper outfit with cape and elaborate paper feather headpiece

Perhaps most exciting of all was when I entered and won an Australian competition to make an outstanding outfit. It was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with 80,000 people in attendance to see Pakistan and Australia compete. The coveted prize was two business class round the world tickets! The outfit I created was a unique wearable bar - a drinks bar and large angel wings of gold. (pictured: Mandy and her daughter) 

two women standing at cricket match dressed in elaborate paper costumes resembling a drinks bar


I invited my sister and we traveled the world just before Covid hit, visiting Chicago, London, Dubrovnik, Munich for Octoberfest, Venice, Milan, Lake Como, Florence, Rome, and lastly Bali for a rest!


young female model, standing, dressed in elaborate dress and headpiece decorated with pink and cream paper flowers


I’ve moved into making pieces and collections for photo shoots with my latest designs appearing in magazines such as Moevir (Paris), Scorpio Jin (Miami), and Malvie (Paris), with more coming out next month. 

 young female model leaning backwards dressed in elaborate silver paper feathered outfit and string-like headpiece


I’ve just been invited to make a collection for a special runway event to take place on October 29 at the famous Windsor Hotel in Melbourne for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. There will be nine couture designers parading their beautiful designs, but only one will feature wearable paper art - mine! 

makeup artist applying lipcolor to face of young female model dressed in aqua paper outfit and paper flower headpiece


I find it essential to work with professional makeup artists, models, and photographers who present my paper art in the best possible light.  


young female model dressed in elaborate aqua and yellow paper outfit and paper flower headpiece


I look forward to exploring even more areas in making creative wearable garments, as it is truly a love of mine. 

smiling woman with long blonde hair

 Mandy Duncan


Follow Curl Paper's latest creations via Instagram and Facebook. She can be reached via Instagram DM or email: curlpaper@gmail.com.


Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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