The intersection of disposable clothing and pop art.
Production of paper clothing began with a 1966 American Scott Paper Company promotion offering an inexpensive paper dress, and quickly become a popular fashion novelty, with a large number of clothing items such as men’s vests, bridal gowns and even underwear. Major retail outlets such as I. Magnin and Abraham & Straus set up clothing boutiques dedicated to paper clothing; even politicians joined in the action with Romney, Nixon and Kennedy all promoting their 1968 campaigns with free paper dresses.
It wasn’t until the late 60s that Campbell’s Soup offered the movement’s most iconic piece – the Souper Dress. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s 1962 “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” this dress combines the instantly recognizable soup graphic with the decade’s most ephemeral fashion fad.
For two soup labels, $1 and your dress size, Campbell’s mailed the paper Souper Dress flat, ready to be pressed lightly for wearing. A series of yellow rings at the bottom of the dress allow the wearer to trim to a custom length, without having to finish the hem.
Our challenge was to present the dress as if being worn. To give the illusion of a body, we needed to create a “floating” half-form. Using foss shape, a soft, felt-like material that hardens and shrinks with steam and heat, we were able to create an invisible female form to give the dress structure and display its unique shape.
To maintain the illusion of being the dress being worn, the interior form required extensive trimming to ensure it was invisible to the viewer. The form also needed to accommodate showing the original interior label.
Mounting posed a unique challenge. Traditionally, fabric would be stitched directly to the mount, but with this paper dress, tearing was a concern. Instead we used rare-earth magnets applied to the inside of the finished form that correspond with magnets on the back of the stretcher mount, keeping the dress safely in place.
It was deeply satisfying to be able to work on this iconic piece of Sixties history. We were honored to give form to this unique piece of life imitating art.