Cutting Edge: Fast Fashion’s Paper Dresses of the Mid 60’s

Picture this: It’s the summer of 1966, London

. You’re a fashionista attending a very chic cocktail party hosted by the grooviest people in town. The Beatles play low on the record player, giving the Mod living space a melodic vibe in a haze of patchouli and… let’s just stick with patchouli… GASP! You just spilled your drink on your dress! What is a liberated, fashionable girl to do? Well, if you ascribed to the fast-fashion trend of the Paper dress, this potential wardrobe catastrophe will no longer leave a stain on your social life! Disposable garments make cleanup a breeze!

 

What creative fashion Haus or forward-thinking futuristic designer gifted the mid-60’s you with the dress capable of osmosis? Halston? Chanel? Scott Paper Company??? Wait… The paper towel people? YES! In 1966, Scott unrolled an ad campaign featuring a mail-order paper dress (in two styles!) for around $1.25. “But who wants a paper dress?” you might ask… 500,000 fashion mavens, aficionados and lovers of all things disposable (So many, in fact, Scott had to discontinue the campaign). Ads declared, “created to make you the conversation piece at parties. Smashingly different at dances or perfectly packaged at picnics. Wear it anytime…anywhere. Won’t last forever…who cares? Wear it for kicks — then give it the air.” As the epitome of the “space-age” hostess, of course you want to coordinate your wardrobe to match your paper plates!

 

Paper designs were not limited to a party-ready shift dress or drugstore novelty. The ultimate in enlightened, nontraditional fashion was…. You guessed it!… Paper wedding gowns. The dress may not outlast the “newlywed” years, but at $15, who cares? (If you want to see vintage wedding gowns that did stand the test of time, visit Esse starting May 29th for our vintage wedding gown exhibit!

 

Now that you’re seeing unconventional materials in a new way, come to Esse for our paper clothing exhibit: Cutting Edge, featuring the work of mixed-media artist Laura Fanning. Fanning’s Caution: Garment May Be Flammable collection of paper clothing – to be hung on the wall, not the body – makes up the rest of the exhibit. Fanning’s pieces are for sale; the vintage dresses are just a trip down memory lane, even though you’ll want one!

This exhibit is only tearing through ESSE Purse Museum for three weeks, Tuesday, May 1, through Sunday, May 20.

 

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