The second I saw the image of Eloise Corr Danch's life-size paper sculpture, Lady Dulcinea, based on Spanish and Austrian Baroque designs, I was hooked. It was like looking at a childhood fantasy come to life (I was obsessed with paper dolls and their fashions when I was a kid). After Eloise sent over an invite for her show at the Rockefeller Center Anthropologie store Gallery in Manhattan, I checked out her illustrations and sketches and was so enamoured with her work that I had to invite her to stop by tys. Her work is a combination of so many of my favorite things: couture, handmade, a bit Matisse-y, and truly maximalist. Now that I know more about Eloise's inspirations and life, I am even more of a fan! But see for yourself...
mj: What inspired you to do the paper sculpture? Will you be doing more of these?
eloise: I help out the designers RUFFIAN (www.ruffian.com) on various projects when I can. They are such amazing designers and amazing people. Last year (June 2007) the New York Observer held a charity event that honored RUFFIAN and some other designers, and I collaborated with Brian and Claude to build this Rococo dress made entirely of paper. It was the most wonderful experience, and came so naturally to me. My dad is a carpenter and makes a lot of furniture and garden structures, so I guess it's in my blood to make things. Traditionally I've been mostly a 2D artist, but ever since last year I've been exploring paper animals, flowers, all sorts of paper things.
I hope to do many many more paper dresses, hopefully for a gallery show, or a visual display, or for a set for an editorial shoot.
mj: Does fashion influence your work?
eloise: Most definitely! And I am very much inspired by the idea of "dress", how people present themselves and how through history, dress has been a communicator, identifying everyone--from a utilitarian garment, like an apron or a military uniform--to the ornamental details of the clothes the aristocracy wore. And now it's really anything goes. I just think it's fascinating.
And living in New York we have the luxury of so many fashion museums, whether its FIT or Parsons or the Cooper Hewitt or the Costume Institute at the Met, there are so many places to see fashion and historical costume displayed as respectfully as it deserves to be. Seeing the real thing is just a much better way to experience it than looking at it in a book or a magazine.
But I read just about everything. I actually have an addiction to a lot of the international magazines. I end up with piles of magazines. But they're always good for tears, for inspiration and poses.
mj: Who are your favorite designers?
eloise: Christian Lacroix is probably the highest on my list. His aesthetic is my ideal: very maximalist, but balanced. And his knowledge of antiquity and construction and detail are at the pinnacle. I love Dries Van Noten, his pallettes and prints are so beautiful. And his work is so bohemian and worldly but also elegant and clever. I like the way Tsumori Chisato balances an interesting Japanese aesthetic with whimsy. I also love Isobel Toledo, Junya Watanabe, and Issey Miyake for artistic reasons. They are architects, woven sculptors. Vivienne Westwood, like Lacroix, takes very formal costume history, turns it inside out and puts her fingerprints all over it. And she makes no apologies. All these designers have a specific point of view, and if you look at their careers, they've been consistent for decades.
But as much as I love fashion design, what really makes my knees wobble is fashion illustration. I really love the traditional work of artists like Charles Dana Gibson, Kenneth Paul Block, and Steven Stippleman, and I'm also really inspired by digital illustrators like Yuko Shimizu, Sara Singh, and Autumn Whitehurst. But closest to my heart are contemporary illustrators who work traditionally, like Ruben Toledo, David Downton, Hope Gangloff, Sujean Rim and Audrey Kawasaki. And they're not fashion illustrators, but I'm a huge fan of Carson Ellis and Hillary Knight.
mj: What would your ideal project be?
eloise: My ideal project I guess would be something involving illustration and 3D work. But really I don't have one ideal project. Ruben Toledo and Yuko Shimizu are really inspiring to me. Both of them work in a variety of media and on a huge variety of projects. They do editorial work and print illustration, visual projects for sets, operas, photo shoots, window displays. Ruben Toledo does animated films. Yuko Shimizu licenses images, she teaches. These guys are doing it right. They're illustrators, but really they're artists and don't limit themselves to illustration. For someone like me, who wears many hats and gets bored easily, that just seems like the best way to do it. I want a career where I get to do lots of different kinds of projects.
mj: What's next? Are you working on anything new?
eloise: I'm going to be doing a limited edition of handmade dolls for Anthropologie, and a couple of other projects with them that I'll tell you about when the ink is dry. I'm also working on two books, both involving paper work and illustration, that I will try to find a home for in the fall. And I'm doing some stationary and print design.
I'm also working on my garden and planning a road trip with my boyfriend from Missoula, Montana to San Francisco. Our cucumbers are going crazy, so I think I will be learning some Pickling recipes.
Thanks so much Eloise for stopping by!
I hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did. You can see more of Eloise's work at eloisecorrdanch.com.