In 2009 MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp hosted the exhibition ‘RRRIPP!! Paper Fashion’ that investigated the use of paper in fashion design and the historical importance of the paper dress.
Paper is the material of the ephemeral, the physical support where fashion is usually sketched, represented and through which it is diffused. Realm of the bidimensional, paper flattens fashion in photographies, drawings and illustrations or explores it through words. However, in the 1960s the relationship between paper and fashion went beyond the two dimensions, and paper dresses became a craze which would have made history.
Vassilis Zidianakis, curator and co-founder of the non-profit cultural organization ATOPOS CVC, that explores the expression and adornment of the human body through various initiatives and projects, investigated the importance and influence of these paper dresses through the touring exhibition ‘RRRIPP!! Paper Fashion’, hosted at MoMu in 2009.
Set in an original installation designed by the French Industrial Design office Normal Studio, the exhibition displayed a selection of original paper dresses from the 1960s part of the ATOPOS CVC own collection, alongside more recent experiments by contemporary fashion designers and artists, who were asked to create something inspired by the dresses in the collection. Sophia Kokosalaki, Michael Cepress, Yiorgos Eleftheriades, Johanna Trudzinski, Bas Kosters, Angelos Bratis, Deux Hommes, Marcus Tomlinson, as well as the internationally renowned stage designer Bob Wilson participated with their creations to the exhibition, together with Dirk Van Saene, John Galliano, Issey Miyake, A.F. Vandevorst, Hussein Chalayan, Kosuke Tsumura, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester.
Although paper had been used for clothing in different geographies and chronologies – for instance, for the papier-mâché clothes and accessories common during the 18th century and for the paper kimonos of the Japanese Edo period – it was in 1966 that the dresses became a global trend. They were first released in America, as a mean to promote the products of a paper manufacturing company. These light, disposable dresses soon captured the vibrant atmosphere of the 1960s and became a big phenomenon; they were sold in major department stores and printed with bold and whimsical pop-art patterns. Their popularity though was ephemeral as their materiality: by 1968 they almost disappeared from any market.
Revisit the exhibition through these pictures by Boy Kortekaas and browse Europeana Fashion collection of paper dresses on Europeana Fashion portal!