Dress (USA), 1966
Medium: paper Technique: printed on non-woven foundation Label: printed paper. Gift of Edna J. Curran. 1966-78-1.
What is this?
Short-sleeved dress with back and front of similar shape, seamed at top and sides. Tan fibrous paper printed with horizontal black and brown stripes.
Why is this important?
Paper clothes from the 1960s represented the zeitgeist of a generation of Post-WWII consumers interested in affordable, fashionable, and futuristic design. When paper dresses were introduced on fashion runways and as promotional devices, American consumers proved to be an eager market. Unlike durable clothing of the past, the very nature of the fabric, and part of their fad appeal, was disposability. In the late 1950s manufacturers invented technology to produce inexpensive, nonwoven fabrics by binding cellulose (wood pulp) with a synthetic fiber, which were marketed to the public as paper fabric. These novelty garments were quickly and cheaply produced in a range of colors, patterns, and silhouettes. They could be worn a few times, restyled with scissors, and thrown away. At the height of the craze, Mars Manufacturing was reportedly producing over 80,000 paper dresses a week, but by the end of 1968, paper clothes fell out of favor due to concerns of fire safety and ecological pollution.