Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Paper Cut Tailoring

Our recent trip to Antwerp saw us take in some culture as well as just the over eating and stock sale hunting. One of the highlights for me, was the trip to the MOMU to marvel at the Paper Fashion exhibition. The exhibition brings together the most remarkable collection of paper fashion creations. In addition to the historic objects from Ancient China and Japan, the exhibition includes designs by Hussein Chalayan, A.F. Vandevorst, John Galliano, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Issey Miyake to name just a few. Although there has been no real question of paper fashion as such since 1968 (previously anything was possible with paper fashion from pop art to political campaign slogans), countless important fashion houses and designers have experimented with paper or with materials that resemble paper.

Of course the exhibition had a heavy womenswear slant but their were still the odd nugget of menswear to savour. Namely James Rosenquist's famous paper suit for Hugo Boss that he wore to Pop art openings and parties in the 1960s. Rosenquist in his paper suit transcended mere fashion and became the perfect embodiment of the era.

Recently remade of Tyvek(r) (a nonwoven fabric made from spun-bonded olefin) brings Rosenquist's paper suit into the new millenium. This extraordinary garment represents the increasingly explicit link between art and fashion and marries the most enduring form of menswear with the "throwaway" nature of paper.

The fragility of paper stimulated the textiles industry to seek out alternative materials that looked like paper, but which offered more possibilities. Ultimately, Tyvek proved to be the only one of these materials that would continue to be used in the textiles industry to the present day. When I posted about Saskia Diez's use of the fabric I was most intrigued by it and meant to explore its use further (Miuccia used it expertly to provide monochromatic colour blocks for MiuMiu SS07 collection - it became the outerwear of choice from the bomber jackets to the boxy plebian coats with micro collars) and was even pointed in the direction of Cloth House where the fabric is available. Following a great deal of papier inspiration at the exhibition I will make that trip to Berwick Street this weekend for a closer look.

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