“Paper Dresses Soon” announced the headline of a New York Times report from Paris in 1907.1 It was not until 60 years later, however, that printed paper garments became a mass-produced reality. “Paper fashion” took the United States market by storm between 1966 and 1968. Canadian and European markets soon followed. Thousands of dresses were produced; they could be purchased at drugstores, supermarkets, department stores and by mail order in exchange for clipped coupons and box tops. Though initially an advertising gimmick, the form was quickly appropriated by fashion designers, painters and graphic designers. Pop artists like Andy Warhol were enlisted to create and promote them and in turn saw their work appropriated and imitated on the dresses’ surfaces. It was all over in two years; the fad faded and consumers moved on, but its merger of paper, visual art, wearable form and consumer delight summarizes a culturally dynamic moment, and remains an inspiration to contemporary artists and designers working at the thresholds of their disciplines.
- Special Cablegram, “Paper Dresses Soon: Possibilities of the New Durable Thread,” New York Times, 19 May 1907: 17.