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de Young Museum

Isabelle de Borchgrave "Eleonora de Toledo"

Isabelle de Borchgrave "Eleonora de Toledo"

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From: de Young Museum
Limited Edition: 30
Exhibition: Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 72" (88cm x 182cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Isabelle de Borchgrave makes fabulous paper gowns inspired by the Renaissance Medicis, and legends the likes of Marie-Antoinette, but she also makes paper ensembles that are worn! She designed and made the delicate paper dress Queen Fabiola of Belgium wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain in 2004. HRH Princess Annemarie wore a de Borchgrave white on white wedding dress train at her marriage to Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma. The artist also reproduced de Chirico and Bakst costumes of the early 20th century avant-garde Les Ballet Russes .


Pulp Fashion was a review of Isabelle de Borchgrave’s magnificent trompe l’oeil dresses over a 16 year span. Something about a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1994 awoke the idea of creating paper dresses, which today are held in private collections and museums worldwide. She starts with large sheets of paper and paints on an oversized linen-covered table in her Brussels studio. Designing on paper feels liberating to de Borchgrave because it is disposable unlike fabric which can ruined if cut incorrectly and doesn’t offer the same painting surface. Each ensemble takes up to six weeks to complete, and may include shoes, jewelry, and elaborate headgear.

Collaborating with costume historian, Rita Brown, de Borchgrave recreated iconic gowns worn by such legends as Elizabeth I, Madame de Pompadour, and Marie-Antoinette. She modeled select pieces by couturiers Charles Frederick Worth, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel, and immersed herself in the pleated and flowing work of Mariano Fortuny, the 20th century Italian fashion designer.

A unique component of this exhibition, which included 60 ensembles, was a section dedicated to five gowns inspired by paintings in the Legion of Honor’s permanent collection. The artist visited the museum months before the exhibition opened and selected four European paintings to use as inspiration. Her three-dimensional depictions seem to leap off the canvas, extrapolating the mood of the original while also allowing a view of the back of the dress not possible in a painting.

Another section of the exhibition was dedicated to the Renaissance finery of the Medici family. The artist meticulously studied the paintings of the era to capture the details of sumptuous brocades, velvets, silks, lace, and gold and silver embroidery—all in paper. She left no detail unaddressed, including sculptural pearls and intricate head dressings. The paper costume of Eleonora de Toledo entitled ÉLÉONORE DE TOLÈDE, 1522-1562 is reproduced on this banner promoting the exhibition. The dress was created in May of 2007 and was inspired by a circa 1545 portrait of Eleonora and her son, Giovanni de Medici, by Agnolo Bronzino. The portrait is in the collection of the Gallery of Uffizi, Florence.

The front of the banner has a graduated dark red to yellow background with a view of the lacy ivory, gold and black de Toledo dress and elaborate head dress. The back of the banner is yellow with “pulp FASHION” in red letters and “the Art of Isabelle de Brochgrave/FEB 5 – JUN 5/Legion of Honor/FINE ARTS MUSEUM/Lincoln Park” in black letters.

A companion banner sold separately features de Borchgrave’s paper dress of Isabelle de Medici, called ISABELLE DE MÉDICIS, 1540-1557.


This banner was displayed around the San Francisco area to promote the de Young Museum's exhibition, Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, between February 5 and June 12, 2011.

About the Artist

Learn more about Isabelle de Borchgrave

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