The 1960s paper fashion movement only lasted two years, but it was two years of paper, paper, and more paper.
Paper saris, knitted paper clothes, paper bags and paper jewelry.
You can now see more than 80 pieces preserved at the Phoenix Art Museum.
“Generation Paper: Fast Fashion in the 1960s” opens December 18 and runs until July 17, 2022. The exhibit was largely donated by museum supporter Kelley Ellman, whose love of paper dolls influenced a life in the collect 1960s paper fashion, she said.
Paper fashion was “all the rage,” said Helen Jean, the Museum’s Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design.
“Because it was a weird, new and fun thing, it took off like crazy,” said Jean.
It started out as a crockery promotion
It was the year 1966.
Scott Paper Company, a toilet paper company, came up with an idea. Why not trade someone’s proof of purchase for a paper suit?
So that’s what they did. The company began mailing paper clothes made from Dura Weave, the cellular fabric created in the laboratory used to make tablecloths, placemats and paper napkins. The idea exploded, said Jean.
“It was just a promotional gag,” said Jean. “Well, it got so popular so fast, very quickly aroused the success of the other fabric manufacturers in the game, and then the designers came into the game because there is a lot of money to be made there.”
In addition to Scott Paper, producers such as Mars of Asheville, The Disposables, Sterling Paper Fashions, and Hallmark have all come aboard. More than 80,000 paper dresses sold weekly.
By the end of 1966, the paper suits had exceeded sales by over $ 3.5 million. Ideas kept getting more creative: matching mother-daughter paper sets, paper bikinis, knitted paper dresses, paper caftans, even paper jewelry, all on display at the museum exhibit.
The paper fashion didn’t last long
The two years were an era of innovation, Jean said.
For one, it was a generation that emerged from World War II. The financial accessibility of the clothes was an added bonus. Plus, it was a time when innovation seemed limitless – new cars were being designed, scientists were building rockets, and fabric designers were creating new fabrics for use across the country.
The environmental impact of disposable clothing was not an issue at the time, Jean said.
“This is a new generation where the ability to dine on TV in a disposable dress was totally new. And it’s exciting, “said Jean.” But because it wasn’t practical or long-term. He died within a few years. ”
The dresses are “magnificent,” said Jean. But the exhibition – which will also present behind-the-scenes content on the paper-clothing conservation process – is also an opportunity to pay attention to the environmental impact of fast fashion.
“Are we buying disposable things that will eventually end up in landfills?” Jean said. “It is detrimental to the environment in a layered way, and so this gives us the opportunity to think about the investment we are making in the clothing we have purchased. How does this make us feel and how will it influence and influence our decisions? ”
How to see Phoenix Paper Fashion:
Where is it: Phoenix Museum of Art, 1625 N. Central Ave, Phoenix. 602-257-1880, https://phxart.org
When: Until July 17, 2022
Cost: Free for members, included in the registration fee; $ 23 for adults; $ 20 for seniors; $ 18 for college students; $ 14 for 6-17 year olds; free for children up to 5 years
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