The story begins in a little house in Sablon, which Isabelle turned into a studio. There, she gave drawing classes to her friends’ children and other neighbourhood children and, thus, was free to think about her own designs. It was the seventies and, so, La Tour de Bébelle was set up there. Processions of hand-painted clothes, rolls of fabrics strewn about, pigments, brushes, gouaches, canvasses, pastels and travel journals. Everything alongside each other in a friendly, colourful and modern setting.
Journeys followed, one after another, all over the world. Isabelle discovered different cultures and began to see the world in a new light.
Following a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1994, Isabelle dreamed up paper costumes. While keeping her brushes in hand and her paintings in mind, she worked on four big collections, all in paper and trompe l’œil, each of which set the scene for a very different world. “Papiers à la Mode” (Paper in Fashion), the first, takes a fresh look at 300 years of fashion history from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. “Mariano Fortuny” immerses us in the world of 19th century Venice. Plissés, veils and elegance are the watchwords of that history. “I Medici” leads us through the streets of Florence, were we come across famous figures in their ceremonial dress. Figures who made the Renaissance a luminous period. Gold-braiding, pearls, silk, velvet … here, trompe l’œil achieves a level of rediscovered sumptuousness. As for the “Ballets Russes”, they pay tribute to Serge de Diaghilev. Pablo Picasso, Léon Bakst, Henri Matisse, … all designed costumes for this ballet company, which set the world of the 20th century alight. These dancing paper and wire figures play a very colourful and contemporaneous kind of music for us.
It’s true that, today, Isabelle de Borchgrave has become a name that is readily associated with fashion and paper. But her name is also closely linked to the world of design. By working together with Caspari, the potteries of Gien, Target, and Villeroy and Boch, Isabelle has turned her imagination into an art that’s accessible to anyone who wants to bring festivity into their home. Painted fabrics and paper, dinner services, curtains, sheets, decor with a personal touch for parties and weddings,… All this tells of the world in which she has always loved to move.
But in a 40-year career, she has never put to one side the thing that has always guided her in her life: painting. She still exhibits her paintings and her large folded paper works all over the world. With an imagination increasingly stimulated by her knowledge and interpretation of art, Isabelle, a follower of the Nabis movement, has a fresh perspective of a world that flies around her like a dream.
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