Paper Dresses

History

Paper Dress Vintage was opened by Fine Art & Textiles graduate Hannah Turner Voakes in September 2007 and has since established itself as a ‘must-go’ on the East London vintage scene.

Born and bred in West Yorkshire, Hannah came down to London initially to study fine art at Chelsea in 2004. The combination of buying in the North and selling in the South, a bit of charm and a lot of good luck gave Hannah the opportunity to open up shop in East London’s suitably trendy Shoreditch.

The boutique stocks hand-sourced British vintage from 1900-80’s displayed on well-spaced and organised rails looked over lovingly by informed staff who are on hand to help you find the perfect look! An on-site alterations team is on hand to tweak or transform vintage treasures into bespoke clothing for you, or to repair any garments which are in need of a bit of care and attention.

The boutique now incorporates a cosy coffee shop and a bar and events space, with names such as Adam Ant, Public Service Broadcasting, The Noisettes and many more making appearances in their unique shop window stage.

Paper Dress Vintage also holds fashion illustration classes every Monday, Jive Dancing classes every Tuesday and vintage hair & beauty appointments every Saturday – plus lots of other weird and wonderful events to keep the creative and stylish people of Shoreditch entertained!

Hannah named the boutique after a fad from the 60’s – the paper dress.

In 1966, Scott Paper Company invented the paper dress, intended as a marketing tool. For $1, women could buy the dress and also receive coupons for Scott paper products. The paper dress wasn’t an invention meant to be taken seriously, but women surprised the company by ordering half a million of these dresses in under a year. People were demanding more convenience and instant gratification. What was more instantly gratifying than a dress you could hem yourself with only a pair of scissors, or a dress that could simply be thrown out if it got dirty?

As the trend took off, companies began to experiment with style and fabric, adding other materials to the paper to make a sturdier garment that could even be washed. Mars Manufacturing Company invented a wide range of paper dresses, from a basic A-line style, to a paper evening dress, to a full paper wedding gown, all for under $20. Other companies followed suit, inventing such things as paper slippers, paper bell-bottom suits and waterproofed paper raincoats and bikinis. Even Andy Warhol got in on the trend, creating a design based on his famous Campbell’s soup can print.

Only a few years after the invention of the paper dress, the fad had become obsolete. It remains, however, a testament to the innovation of the 60’s, a period in history known for its willingness to take risks and be daring.

If you visit the Paper Dress Vintage boutique you can see some original paper dresses floating around.