Pleating inspiration

Zoe Bradley unites the sculptural quality of paper with fashion, she works by hand with the precision of a tailor. The works I have looked at are exaggerated in scale. The trains and head-dresses of pleated monochrome paper rustle without walking.

‘On/off’ has the appearance of a bridal dress- the pleats in the skirt and bodice reminding me of my diagonal sample in the previous post. These are layered almost like scales as much as ruffles. Platform 21 belies gravity, its train lisps up like the tail of a mermaid, again the linear accordion fold worked on the diagonal form most of the dress, but as they move to the tip of the ‘tail’ they seem to take on a rounded rather then creased look – the light playing on the black paper creating curves as well as creases. In 2005, another white dress graced Liberty’s windows. This time the pleats are made with the line of the paper edge (it is difficult to tell whether made horizontally or vertically). Interestingly this creates a much gentler silhouette that seems more ruffled and rouched.

Interestingly in the artist’s profile on her website there is the statement that the: ‘paper dress grew organically from hand pleating large pieces of paper.’ Her paper dresses continue to evolve and will be, ‘shown in more of Sotheby’s markets, including Paris, Milan, New York and Hong Kong throughout 2016’. Whilst the pleating has been replaced by laser cut ruff and hand folded ruffles her work continues to transform the space they inhabit and add drama to the dress again.


‘Paper Cutting’, compiled by Laura Heyenga, Chronicle Books, 2011, pg 32-33