Currently on view at Zurich’s Museum Bellerive, the exhibition “Pap(i)er Fashion” reveals the ancient material’s cultural, aesthetic and political history throughout fashion. From its invention in China (approximately 100 A.D.) to modern-day uses as both a print medium and a textile, the show juxtaposes the the ephemeral use of paper alongside its more timeless qualities.
Focusing on paper as a wearable material, the show dives right into the swinging 60’s, when paper dresses adopted the form of subversive canvases for pop art and political propaganda. Newspaper-printed paper clothing flaunting banner headlines or political candidates’ names became particularly popular tongue-in-cheek examples of sartorial protest.
The exhibition also focuses on paper’s most current and contrasting roles. Not only used as a modern and innovative textile for contemporary designers such as Issey Miyake and Hussein Chalayan—both well-known known for their embrace of unconventional fabrics—but also as a longstanding medium for advertisement, art and runway shows. Other featured designers include John Galliano, Helmut Lang, Maison Martin Margiela, and Karl Lagerfeld who sent models down the runway in breathtaking, meticulously-crafted floral headpieces for Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2009 haute couture show.