• Emma Stergoulis Design

Adventures of a Paper Doll – From Fashion House to House of Fashion

For many of us over 30 ( I am not saying how far over 30), but way before the invention of the computer game and Justin Bieber, you may recall playing with paper dolls.  A very simple idea where you had a modestly dressed two dimensional doll with a collection of cut out outfits to suit all occasions.  The outfits were held together by a small tab of paper that subtly folded over the doll itself (that was until it ripped, or of course you got a little over zealous with the scissors and cut through the tabs off by mistake).  I am sure many a budding fashion designer began their early years with this simple but charming little game.

Why am I rambling on about paper dolls??? Well my nostalgia for this simple toy was recently reawakened with a fun story about a journey of a family of such dolls from a Sydney flea market, to a fashion house (collecting a few stamps in their passport along the way), until their final stop  as the inspiration for a renovation of an Australian artists home. (Source Vogue Living Before and After 2012).

Are you sitting comfortably?….. well let me begin.

From Flea Market to Fashion House

In a Sydney Flea market Japanese Born/Australian fashion designer Akira Isogawa and his long-time collaborator, collage artist, Christiane Lehmann stumbled upon the paper dolls. These paper dolls were then  adorned with a collage of fabrics and beads and paper folding inspired by master origami artist Takahiro Shirai.

The finished dolls charted the creative journey behind the production of Isogawa’s Printemps-Ėtė collection 2005, which he presented during the Paris Fashion Week in October 2004.  It was in December 2004/05 that National Gallery of Melbourne curator Kate Somerville enlarged the dolls to two meters in height. The exhibition reveals the process by which Isogawa transformed his sources of inspiration into garment form.


 The dolls then went on to be exhibited in Singapore, Bangkok and Manilla before coming home to Sydney.

installation shot (paper dolls) Bangkok Image source Sarah Bond




From fashion house to private house

Having caught the eye of an Australian artist whilst displayed in a Melbourne shop window, a determination and persistence to own these little knobbly kneed dolls led her to owning all 24, on the basis that Isogawa would only give them as a complete set.

Having moved into a Sydney cottage the new owner knew she would have to find a way to configure her house to accommodate her new friends.  Removing walls and a little reconfiguration meant that her house has now become a true Dolls House.  I think I may find them a little spooky at first but having read the article over and over I find them charming.  One thing is for sure they create a fantastic talking point. I love the cheeky twins peering over the wardrobe.

On with the colourful journey………………..

#fashion #design #AustralianDesigners #paperdolls #Sydney #Styling #Cardboardsculpture #upcycle #Travel #InteriorDesign

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