Renaissance fashion in paper

The Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave is exhibiting Renaissance fashion made of paper at the Royal Armoury in the Royal Palace in Stockholm. The Holmen Group is the main sponsor and the magnificent Renaissance costumes will be on show until mid-March 2017.

Renaissance fashion in paper is inspired by clothes worn by the Medici family, an Italian dynasty that had great political influence in Tuscany for a number of generations.

“There is a relationship between the Medici family’s palace in Florence and the Royal Armoury’s exhibition space – the old cellar vaults in the Royal Palace in Stockholm feel like a setting where the Renaissance clothes can really shine,” said Isabelle de Borchgrave at the exhibition opening.

She regards herself as an autodidact. She did study drawing for some years but she regards that time as an exercise characterised by considerable rigidity.

“After that I was free to discover form and colour by myself,” she says. “I worked with fashion and was quite successful with my creations.”

The natural question then arises: why would someone who has succeeded in traditional fashion suddenly start to make clothes out of paper. Why not use textiles?

“My exhibition is based on the costumes I’ve seen in innumerable portraits of members of the Medici family. As a material, paper enables me to recreate the feeling in the portraits that inspire me. However, I also add something by recreating them full length and in the round so that they can also be seen from behind or from the side,” she explains with enthusiasm.

“With paper as the starting point, I’ve been able to create something that feels lightweight. Imagine instead that we could see Katarina di Medici draped in an altered curtain from the 1300s, with all the dust that has accumulated over the centuries. My work is an interpretation of the spirit of the age, and in my opinion it is more alive than if the original garments had been exhibited.”

At Isabelle de Borchgrave’s studio in Brussels 12 people work to create the intricate details of her work. Her main task is to paint the sheets of paper that will represent the textiles. Her collection includes about 250 different costume sculptures made of paper, which are sent to museums and exhibitions around the world.

“I’m happy when many people can experience and enjoy my creations”

Her delicate works in paper can lead to problems that are not experienced by artists who work in bronze or do traditional painting. Transporting the finished works requires great care due to the significant risk of damage en route. “After having produced almost 250 paper garments that are travelling from museum to museum around the world, we’ve learned the hard way how to pack them so they arrive undamaged,” she explains.

Her choice of paper and sculpture distances her somewhat from the traditional commercial world of art. Her works are owned only to a very limited extent by private individuals and instead are usually exhibited at museums and other institutions.

“That’s not a problem for me,” she says. “I’m happy when many people can experience and enjoy my creations.”

After the exhibition at the Royal Armoury in Stockholm the exhibition will move to Kalmar Castle in late spring 2017. That same year an exhibition will also travel to five American cities.

For Holmen the collaboration with the Royal Armoury offers special opportunities. Customer visits, meetings with forest owners and customer events will be held at the Armoury during the six months of the exhibition.

Holmen has its own presentation space in conjunction with the exhibition. There, visitors are welcomed into the forest via large panels featuring beautiful forest scenes and information about sustainable forestry. There is also a studio where visitors can see and feel the paper materials used by Isabelle de Borchgrave in her work.

“The Royal Armoury is a good place for meetings with our stakeholders,” comments Katarina Granö of Holmen Paper. “There we have a place to meet which is unusual and which contributes both history and innovation.”

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave, is currently exhibiting her Renaissance costumes made of paper at the Royal Armoury in the Royal Palace in Stockholm. The Holmen Group is the main sponsor.





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