Belgian artist creates paper recreations of historical fashions

Photo of a paper dress that looks like real fabric in ruffled green with pink floral print. Fitted bodice has a ruffled pink front. Long sleeves end in white ruffled. Full skirt.

Isabelle de Borchgrave, Madame de Pompadour Court Dress, 2001. Mixed media, acrylic, ink, metallic powder and adhesive on paper, 69 11/16 x 40 3/16 x 25 9/16 inches. Collection of the artist. Inspired by an about 1760 portrait of Madame de Pompadour by Francois Boucher in the collection of Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Opening Saturday, February 18, 2023, is WAM’s first major exhibition of 2023 that showcases the work of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave, who creates breathtaking paper recreations of historical costumes. The life-size paper sculptures celebrate the artist’s love of vibrant color, textiles, and the artistic effect trompe l’oeil (French for “fools the eye”). If you’ve never seen the artist’s work, you will be delighted by these life-size renditions of historic clothing created completely from artfully painted, pleated, crumpled, and manipulated paper.

Based in Brussels, Belgium, de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but textiles and costumes 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 elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world.

Her art reimagines the history of fashion in humble paper, transporting us through more than 500 years around the world in Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper. This extensive exhibition with more than 100 artworks celebrates the breadth of de Borchgrave’s work with costume and fashion history and is designed to introduce her work to a wider audience. Even upon close inspection, it is often difficult to discern her costumes are made of paper.

This Saturday’s Exhibition Opening Day also will include two special events to coincide with Fashioning Art from Paper:

Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper has been organized by Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee, in cooperation with Isabelle de Borchgrave Studio. Presenting Sponsor is Lattner Family Foundation. The principal sponsors are Koch Family Foundation, Sondra Langel, Sarah T. Smith, and Judy Slawson Exhibition Fund. General sponsors for the exhibition are DeVore Foundation, Dondlinger Construction, Emprise Bank, and The Trust Company of Kansas. Donna Bunk, Mary Eves, Toni and Bud Gates, Joey and Rich Giblin, Carol and H. Guy Glidden, Harold and Evelyn Gregg, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, Delmar and Mary Klocke, Dr. Barry and Jane Murphy, Stev Overstreet, Kristin and Will Price, Debbie and Ron Sinclair, and Mary Sue Smith also provided exhibition support. 2023 exhibitions and public programs are generously supported by the Downing Foundation.  All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita.

Admission to Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper is free to WAM members, $12 for adults/seniors, and free to students with ID and youth 18 and under. Purchase tickets on-site at the museum’s Welcome Desk or at

Thanks to Colby Sandlian of Sandlian Realty, admission to Fashioning Art from Paper will be just $3 to WAM visitors using EBT cards who participate in SNAP benefits. Mr. Sandlian’s generosity also will support free admission to Fashioning Art from Paper on Saturday, April 22, which will coincide with the museum’s Family ArtVenture program. In addition, libraries in the surrounding area, including Goddard Public Library and Derby Public Library, offer WAM Family Passes for check-out. These Family Passes, also sponsored by Colby Sandlian, offer free admission to WAM’s temporary exhibitions, including  Fashioning Art from Paper.

WAM Curator Dr. Tera Hedrick is available for media interviews, and high-res images from the exhibition, including a photo of the artist in her studio, can be provided via a Hightail link. Call Teresa Veazey, public relations manager, at 316-268-4985 or email