Stylish Shows

4 Reasons to See A World of Paper, A World of Fashion at Bellevue Arts Museum

BAM continues the string of stylish Seattle shows with an exhibit of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave's life-size costumes based on the couture of early 20th-century Spanish designer Mariano Fortuny.

By Laura Cassidy November 21, 2013

The BAM-hosted North American debut of Belgian paper artist Isabelle de Borchgrave's recreations of historical fashion by early 20th-century Spanish designer Mariano Fortuny opens Thursday, November 21 and is on view through February.

Here's why you have to go.

1. You love paper.  De Borchgrave starts with simple pattern paper—about the least glamorous material you can getand then paints it, washes it, paints it again, and perhaps washes it again, and then begins to crimp, pleat, shape, and mold these life-size garments. You've never seen pulp quite like this before.

2. You loved Miyake's pleats at Future Beauty. Fortuny is the forebearer of pleating; he invented and patented several methods of creating what one fashion mag calls the "always chic but suddenly hot" folded style.

3. You're into the history of dress. Fortuny was a real game-changer. His Delphos gown required (allowed?) women to ditch fussy corsets and go bra-less in the early decades of the 1900s. Large scale photographs of models in the real things echo the artist's renderings; as influential BAM curator Stefano Catalani explained it at a recent press-only walk-through, there's a conversation going on. 

4. You believe in fashion as art. There's something happening in museums the world over; visitors are flocking to shows that put garments on forms and shift the focus off the wall and into, well, truly, the closet. Seattle isn't outside of this trend despite what people still seem to say about our aesthetic orientation. A World of Paper, A World of Fashion is the latest and greatest way to celebrate the cerebral qualities of costume, wardrobe, and style.


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