About This Exhibition

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave creates breathtaking paper recreations of historical costumes. The life-size sculptures celebrate the artist’s love of vibrant color, textiles, and the artistic effect trompe l’oeil (French for “fools the eye”).

Originally a painter, Isabelle de Borchgrave’s fashion time-traveling dates to 1994 when she visited the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. There, an exhibition of 18th-century garments was on display. “It gave me a shock–particularly a yellow dress, which would become my first paper creation,” the artist said. Since that time, de Borchgrave has created astonishing fashion with a surprising medium–trompe l’oeil paper artworks.

From replicas of Renaissance Italian gowns to recreations of the fantastical modernist costumes of the Ballet Russes, de Borchgrave’s work is meticulously crafted and astonishingly beautiful. This exhibition explores 300 years of fashion history, featuring dresses from Queen Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. De Borchgrave’s paper costumes have been featured in major exhibitions around the world from Venice to San Francisco—and now to Wichita.

WAM gives special thanks to Teresa Molina, assistant professor of Spanish at Friends University, for advising and for translating Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper exhibition signage and labels for each work of art for Spanish-speaking visitors.

WAM agradece especialmente a Teresa Molina, profesora de español en la Universidad de Friends, por el asesoramiento y la traducción de la señalización de la exposición Isabelle de Borchgrave: Crear arte con papel y de las etiquetas de cada obra de arte para los visitantes de habla hispana.

Admission to Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper
FREE for WAM members (not a member? Click here to join.)
• $12 for adults/seniors
• FREE for college students w/ID + youth 18 & under

Faceless mannequin dressed in long layered gown on black, white and gold embellishments. Crown/headdress of white and gold.

Isabelle de Borchgrave, Maria-Maddalena d’Austria, 2007. Mixed media, paper and acrylic, 74 x 47½ x 48 inches. Collection of the artist. Based on a 1622 portrait with her son Ferdinand II by Justus Sustermans (Flemish, active in Italy, 1597–1631) in the collection of Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan.

It gave me a shock–particularly a yellow dress, which would become my first paper creation. 

Isabelle de Borchgrave The artist remarks on her 1994 visit to the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About the Artist

Woman standing at a table, her right hand oustretched holding a brush over material on the table. In her left hand is jar with gold metallic paint. She has medium length curly light brown hair and is dressed in a red and white geometic patterned vest over a short-sleeved grayshirt. Behind her are sheldves with a vareity of materials

Isabelle de Borchgrave in her studio in Brussels, Belgium.

A Belgian artist based in Brussels, 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.


Our Generous Sponsors

This exhibition has been organized by Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, in cooperation with Isabelle de Borchgrave Studio.

The Wichita presentation has been generously underwritten by presenting sponsor Lattner Family Foundation.

Koch Family Foundation, Sondra Langel, Sarah T. Smith, and Judy Slawson Exhibition Fund are principal sponsors.

Generous support has been provided by DeVore Foundation, Dondlinger Construction, Emprise Bank, and The Trust Company of Kansas.

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 are additional exhibition patrons.

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.