Isabelle de Borchgrave

Eleanor of Toledo (and detail), 2006, inspired by a ca. 1545 portrait of Eleanor and her son Giovanni de’ Medici by Agnolo Bronzino in the collection of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo: René Stoeltie

Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

February 5, 2011June 12, 2011

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but textile and costume are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave crafts a world of splendor from the simplest rag paper. Painting and manipulating the paper, she forms trompe l’oeil masterpieces of elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world.  The Legion of Honor is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave, although her creations have been widely displayed in Europe.

Pulp Fashion draws on several themes and presents quintessential examples in the history of costume—from Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the creations of the grand couturiers Frederick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel. Special attention is given to the creations and studio of Mariano Fortuny, the eccentric early-20th-century artist who is both a major source of inspiration to de Borchgrave and a kindred spirit.

Exhibition Preview

The Medici
White dresses
Men's costumes
Marie Claire de Croy and Child, after the painting by Van Dyck, 2010
Neapolitan woman
The artist at work
The artist and collaborators at work
Fortuny tent
Sketch for Eleanor of Toledo
Isabelle de Borchgrave and studio collaborators at work on a piece inspired by A
Eleanor of Toledo
Elizabeth I court dress (detail)
Medici children
19th-century dresses

Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and sponsored by Lonna Wais. Additional support is provided by Nathalie and Garry McGuire and Elizabeth W. Vobach. Collection Connections is made possible by The Annenberg Foundation. The exhibition catalogue is supported in part by a grant from Friends of Fiber Art International.

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