"The Wisconsin-based Scott Paper Company decided to sell paper dresses to promote their new, more colorful paper products.... other companies knew a good fad when they saw it and for the next 2 years many companies started to sell paper dresses, mostly as an advertising gimmick, some political campaigns even gave away dresses with slogans and images of their candidates.... Wippette Sportswear started selling Le Canned Dress late in 1966 and sold 100,000 in November and December."
If you want to learn more, the above pictures and information come from the article "1960's clothing fads paper dresses and dress in a can".
The dresses I'm talking about here, though, don't come in a can, but they may be made of paper. They are works of art, and with one exception, are not meant to be worn. They are beautiful, mysterious, and layered with depth and meaning; I thought I'd share a few here.
Self-Portrait, 2008 wire, paper and photographic images
W: 46cm H: 54cm L: 46cm by Lynn Dennison
I think that's a good summation of the appeal of art in the form of a dress- there is an emotional pull that is undeniable, and undeniably female. The dress itself symbolizes the female body in both shape and connotation (think of how we designate the gender difference of restrooms, for example.)
Susan Stockwell: Money Dress, 2010 Made from paper money from all over the world, stitched together. Based on the style of dress worn in the 1870's by British Female Explorers, honouring their place and role in history. Material: paper money notes, cotton thread, frame Provenance: London, UK
Christina Chalmers states, “In archetypal symbolism, clothing represents persona, a kind of camouflage which lets others know only what we wish them to know about us and nothing more. We are often "clothed" in our own private illusions of ourselves…power, money, success, pleasure, but there is really no substance to this "clothing"; it only cloaks what is deep inside and invisible...
the creative, unique and mysterious inner self. This work is about that with which we clothe ourselves and the "human divinity" or true self which lies hidden beneath." from Artist Statement, Selby Fleetwood Gallery
Christine Elfman Storydress I series of 12 images of dress made of torn story books
"Storydress II" is a series of photographs of a life-size paper mache and plaster sculpture. The dress is made of paper mache stories that I recorded of my great-grandmother’s autobiographical
reminiscences." ~Christine Elfman
"Hinged Poem Dress" by Lesley Dill
She seeks to "explore the symbolic and visual potential of language. She often layers fragments of poetry over the human form, as in Faith (2010), a bronze figure emblazoned with a line from Kafka's Metamorphosis, emphasizing her belief in the transformative, visceral power of language. As Dill explains,'Language is the touchstone, the pivot point of all my work.'" Artspace artist bio
"Poem Hair Dress" by Lesley Dill
"Storytelling and humanity form the basis of Louise Richardson’s work. Garments and sculptures made from a diverse selection of materials give a glimpse of untold tales. ‘Butterfly Dress’ is brimming with an intense sense of animation, conveying the magical attraction of butterflies." from April 2009 press release
"Charm" mixed media and shed snakeskin
“I am currently looking at the idea of memory and identity, bringing universal messages to the viewer through the portrayal of objects in my own memory.” Louise Richardson
"Covert" by Melinda Le Guay
"Her intricately detailed wire dresses displayed tensions between their materials and the final object, creating an alluring beauty, which juxtaposed the dresses prickly surface. They also conveyed minutiae, through the repetitious act of knitting used to create the pieces." - Brenda May Gallery
Artist Melinda Le Guay says, "My work currently hinges on the physical and psychological susceptibility of the young female - when issues to do with identity sometimes culminate in self-harm, or body image disorders. A time when self-protection and retreat dominate thinking and negotiation in the world."
"Ravaged"-enamelled copper wire, thread, dyed gauze, thorn, dyed synthetic flowers, pin, paper
But wait - there's more! Stay tuned for part 2.