About This Exhibition

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 with a new medium, creating trompe l’œil 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 soon in Wichita.

The extensive exhibition with more than 90 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. De Borchgrave’s paper sculptures are masterpieces of trompe l’oeil—even upon close inspection it is often difficult to discern that the costumes are made of paper.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita.

TOP: Isabelle de Borchgrave’s studio in Brussels, Belgium

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.

2022 exhibitions and public programs are generously supported by the Downing Foundation.

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.