- Victoria Comstock-Kershaw
#TEXTME_PAPERFASHION - ATOPOS CVC BRINGS DISPOSABLE 60S FASHION BACK TO LIFE
The 60s were weird. Lava lamps, tie-dye, and bouffants all contributed to the outlandish and electric atmosphere of a decade defined by pop art, protest, and politics - but an oft overlooked aspect of 60s fashion was the massive boom in wearable paper. ATOPOS cvc's latest exhibit at the Marylebone-based Hellenic Centre explores the ethics and aesthetics of the 'throwaway fashion' that dominated the second half of the decade.
The ATOPOS cvc Paper Dress collection has existed since 2007 as a unique glimpse into the various ways that paper has been used in fancy dress and fashion through history. Their ‘RRRIPPP!!! Paper Fashion’ - first presented at the Benaki Museum in Athens, and since shown at (mongst others) MUDAM in Luxembourg, the MoMu in Antwerp, the Bellerive Design Museum in Zurich and the Gallerie Stihl in Wailblingen - has been critically acclaimed, and their first time in London is an exciting look into the cultural and historical uses of paper in fashion. #TextMe_PaperFashion focuses in particular on the Paper Dress movement that came about in 1966 when American companies like Hallmark and Scotts Paper began producing paper dresses as a way to promote their own products. #TextMe_PaperFashion examines how this trend evolved and blossomed through a delightful collection of clothes, accessories, and photographs.
After 1966, the fashion world quickly became inundated with paper everything: hats, bikinis, outfits that matched your disposable tablecloth and crockery. Women became 'walking billboards' as companies, brands, and even political parties began printing their own garments - like the fantastic 1968 'Nixon' paper dress, made for the future Presidents fan-club and approved of by the man himself. Baby Ruth, Butter Finger, and even Campbell's soup all jumped on the paper trend during the years between 1966 and 1970 - dresses could be delivered within an envelope and assembled at home, their paper material coated with a specialised fire-resistant (let us not forget that everyone smoked in the sixties, and having your dress go up in flames was never a good look - even if it did match your tablecloth). These 'Poster Dresses' were also used to promote various poetry and song, as seen by Harry Gordon's paper dresses, adorned by Allen Ginsberg's poem Uptown NY and Bob Dylan's face.
The exhibit itself is perfectly charming, and explores both the technical and historical aspect of using paper in fashion - as well as boasting an impressive collection of original paper garments from the 1960s. The first few tables concern themselves mostly with the cultural, historical and technical aspects of paper fashion, presenting the audience with Japanese kozo bark, Nepalese paper threads, waterproofed kamiko samples, and the like. Some seriously impressive historical peices include a 20th century Hinagata (a practice kimono) made of recycled pages from legder books, and the 'Airmail Dress' by Chalayan. Although the majority of the exhibit is focused on paper fashion produced during the 1960s, there are also some more contemporary pieces by Maison Martin Margiela, John Galliano, and Stratis Tavlaridis.
An interesting subject, a well developed collection, and an aesthetically pleasing layout makes for a great overall pop-up exhibit. It runs from the 16th of January until the 24th of February 2019, and is free to visit.
Image credits: Eventbrite, Liveauctionneer, ATOPOS on Instagram, Gigazine, writer's own.