Pret a Papier

December 18, 2012

If you live in the DC area or you will be visiting during the holidays, you MUST get to Hillwood to see the Pret-a-Papier exhibit before it closes on December, 30th. Isabelle de Borchgrave is a Belgian artist who creates the most stunning dresses out of paper. Yes, paper.  Simple sheets of paper turned into spectacular pieces of couture. 

The first time I heard of de Borchgrave's work was when my mother-in-law and my nieces kept talking about her Pulp Fashion exhibit they had seen in San Francisco .They couldn't stop gushing about the dresses. And now I know why.  All of those amazing details so carefully crafted from paper: endless tucks, multi-layered ruffles, intricate patterns,delicate laces, puffy bows...paper frilliness like you could never imagine possible.

But it's not just the decorative accents on the garments. It's also the historical details. And there are plenty of them to absorb. The most striking connection to history is that several of the dresses are on exhibit in the mansion and they were created specifically for this exhibit. Isabelle de Borchgrave spent time at Hillwood learning about Marjorie Merriweather Post and her enormous collections of Faberge eggs, French antiques, and lovely gardens. The Belgian artist's attention to those details and their shared connections are delightfully obvious in these pieces. My favorite dresses were those that were set inside the lovely ghosts floating and inhabiting the spaces with their papery, ethereal presence.

And when you go, be sure you pick up an audio guide (it's included with the entrance fee) and it really enhances the whole experience. You get to hear de Borchgrave speaking about her personal fascination with various cultures and periods. Similar to the thrill of hearing authors speak about their work and read their own work, I also love to hear artists speak about their creations, their inspirations, their process, and their challenges. I love how these snippets from the interviews with de Borchgrave are tucked in with the audio guide descriptions of the dresses. This slideshow is also a wonderful way to learn more about her work.


boatbaby said...

Ack! We love Hillwood! They have such fabulous exhibits there. You and I need to coordinate better :)

likeschocolate said...

Those dresses are amazing! I wish I live in DC. Thanks for sharing!

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