In contrast to the brutal cold weather on Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane, the Bellevue Arts Museum is immediately welcoming with its warm, fresh, and modern atmosphere. On the third floor awaits your transportation into a vast new world, “A World of Paper, A World of Fashion” to be specific.
The first observation of the exhibition to be taken in — simple but significant — are the colors. A wide variety of deep reds, eccentric aqua, and accenting silver and golds are present on these beautiful articles of clothing. Stepping in to view closer (if you’re fortunate enough to not have security breathing down your back) an obvious realization hits, “Oh my gosh...this is entirely made of paper.” Isabelle de Borchgrave’s intricate folds, crumples, and molds make a cohesive collection of clothes any girl would desire to try on herself.
Walking through each section is like taking a visit back in time to Greek, Indonesian, Japanese, African, and Islamic cultures. One type of dress that is very prevalent throughout the exhibition is the Delphos Dress (Grecian style wear). A delicately hand-pleated dress that elegantly falls to the ground is accessorized with a thin piece of overlaying silk. Photographs of Mariano Fortuny's designs hang throughout the room, so one is able to witness an almost identical resemblance with Borchgrave’s masterpieces.
Who is Fortuny you may ask? Fortuny is, in short, the backbone of Borchgrave’s inspiration in this collection. Think of him as today’s Versace, Fortuny was the leading designer of the early 20th century (Fun fact: influential women such as Natacha Rambova, aka Valentino’s wife, were known to wear his designs!). He died known as a legendary textile and clothing designer, and fortunately through Borchgrave, his remarkable works (originally made with luxury textiles such as silk, velvets, and chiffons) are brought back to life through paper.
I guarantee you’ll leave BAM with at least three distinct thoughts after experiencing this exhibition:
- How long did it take Borchgrave to make all of that clothing?
- How was it transported there?!
- I can’t believe that was all made from paper…
So go ahead and experience a history of fashion through the blend of Borchgrave and Fortuny at Bellevue Arts Museum, and leave not only mesmerized but hopefully inspired by the art of fashion — paper or not.
A World of Paper, A World of Fashion: Isabelle de Borchgrave Meets Mariano Fortuny
Bellevue Arts Museum
Through February 16, 2014