Calendar » Get Out

Pulp Fashion

The Kent State fashion school's latest designs look good on paper.

by

comment
39698.0.jpeg
It isn't pretty, but it's true: One of the hottest fashion trends of the 1960s started as a campaign for toilet paper.

It was the paper dress, offered in 1966 by the Scott Paper Company as a promotional gimmick for its "Color Explosion" bathroom tissue. Patterned in either psychedelic paisley or Op-Art plaid, the "Paper Caper" could be had for $1.25. Half a million flew off the shelves, and before long, you could send in box tops from everything from frozen pie to hair bleach and get cheap, disposable, but oh-so-trendy frocks. Paper even went haute couture, with Dior and Halston designing them for fashion legends like the Duchess of Windsor.

By 1970, paper dresses -- which, it turned out, were itchy and had a troubling tendency to catch fire -- were consigned to the trash compactor of pop history.

Yet the idea of paper clothing continues to fascinate designers. Stephanie Snyder, a fashion-design student at Kent State University, explains the challenge: "One of the main problems is conforming the paper and manipulating it to fit the human body," she says. As a class project, Snyder and her classmates were given huge rolls of paper and asked to create clothing with a nature theme. They folded it, creating pleats, and crumpled it to make ruffles. "Mine was inspired by the ocean," Snyder says. "It's long, with a train, and is very short in the front. It's definitely a little outlandish."

Snyder and her classmates will model their paper creations at Sans Fabrique, a fashion show at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art. One student's dress, yellow with petals, resembles a daffodil; another, with flowing "fabric," evokes the wind.

Though her favorite fabric is matte jersey, Snyder enjoyed making something beautiful out of ordinary, ephemeral material. Though paper clothing isn't likely to make a fashion comeback, Snyder still made her dress practical. "Our professor [Betty Davic] told us, 'When you're designing it, remember that real people have to wear it.'"

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.