Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why I Love Ebay, Part 2

It's not often that fashion leaves me gobsmacked, as the Brits so charmingly say. But get this. People who know costume history have usually heard of paper dresses: disposable, fluttery, A-line sheaths that emerged as a brief but surprisingly popular fad in the late 1960s. You see them in museum collections, for sale in retro shops, and occasionally up on eBay.

I did some digging and learned quite a bit. According to Samantha Marcelo's fantastic article on the history of the paper dress, all sorts of varieties were introduced after the initial basic model proved such a strong seller. 

In a stroke of genius, one company even embedded seeds in the fabric. You watered it, they sprouted, and presto, you become a mobile Chia pet.  

Fashion designers: get busy. This is one revival that's long overdue. 


  1. I certainly remember seeing paper garments when I was in Holland in the late 60s-early 70s. I had a paper dress, and remember it being terribly crinkly and uncomfortable. But then there was the disposable paper underwear; now THAT was a great idea.
    In the early 70s, 7-Up had this big Peter Max ad campaign, and you could send away for paper clothes with Peter Max designs all over them.

  2. hmm don't recall seeing any paper dresses on you back in the day! Good luck with the serger . . .

  3. I wore a red and white paper mini-dress in a sort of psychedelic design, to a college dance in 1968. My friends thought I was very daring. What if the boys tried to tear it off me? I can't remember what happened (it was the sixties!) But I do recall that the fabric was actually quite strong and not easily torn. I do remember paper knickers though. We all loved them - so hygienic and disposable so nothing to launder! We thought it was the future. How sad and wrong we were. Except that not many years later disposal baby nappies (diapers) were introduced and towelling nappies practically disappeared overnight. Moral? Fashion is not about convenience!