Isabelle de Borchgrave

Born 1946, Brussels, Belgium; lives in Brussels, Belgium.

Isabelle de Borchgrave began her studies at the age of 14 at the Centre des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels.  She went on to establish her own studio designing dresses, jewelry, and accessories, and later specialized in designing fabrics. Following a 1994 visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, she dreamed up the idea of paper costumes, for which she has become world renowned.  She immediately began work on four major collections of paper and trompe l’œil: “Papiers à la Mode” –  300 years of fashion history, from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel; “Mariano Fortuny” – 19th century Venice, with its veils and elegance; “I Medici” – Florence, with its Renaissance gold-braiding, pearls, silk, and velvet; and “Ballets Russes”  – a tribute to Serge  Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse, all of whom designed costumes for the  ballet company. 

De Borchgrave’s profound understanding of textile traditions is truly prodigious. Yet, she does not literally duplicate patterns, but masterfully works the paper to a desired effect instead. With her trompe l'oeil paintings and sculptures, she invites the viewer to explore her imaginary world and to create their own illusions.

Throughout her 40 year career, de Borchgrave has exhibited at museums and institutions around the world including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Royal Palace, Luxembourg, Museo Fortuny in Venice, and Japan’s Kushiro Art Museum, among others.

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  Sculptures

  Paintings

  Works on Paper