Paper Dolls: Recreating Iconic Fashion Looks with Paper Cutouts

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The inspiration suddenly came to me while I was having a shower. I’ve always been highly interested in fashion shooting, but since the bar to entry of a great fashion photo is so fixated on the clothing, why not make them out of paper?

Considering my financial status at the moment, it seemed like a pretty legit idea… and thus was born my Reality Paper Doll series.

My initial plan was to use the 2016 Spring/Summer collection as my sketchbook for paper dolls, but I felt like they lacked the sense of representation. On top of that, since I am already going to “pay tribute,” I might as well pay tribute to the classics. For that, I spent a lot of time doing research and studying history of fashion design; then, finally, I picked out a selection of clothes ranging from the 1930 Lobster Dress by Elsa Schiaparaelli to the 2010 Viktor & Rolf—a total of nine classic designs.

In order to achieve planar visual effect, the designs I picked out all share one common trait: they had to be ideal for a 2D paper doll clothing sketch.

Each of the designs has their own stories behind it. In order for the pictures to look more fun and lively, I added a few paper-made accessories such as dogs, cats, and surf boards. The finished product took a total of four months to complete, including drawing with Photoshop and Illustrator, vendor’s printing, and finally trimming them.

In terms of shooting style, I wanted to express it in a childlike manner so I chose amusement parks as my shooting sites. With their highly vivid color palette, amusement parks were the perfect backdrop on which I could construct a comic-like or poster-like image. See all of the results below:

Viktor & Rolf Spring 2010 RTW
Viktor & Rolf Spring 2010 RTW
Rudi Gernreich swimsuit, 1971
Rudi Gernreich swimsuit, 1971
Elsa Schiaparelli Lobster Dress, 1937
Elsa Schiaparelli Lobster Dress, 1937
Jacques Esterel Pink Vichy Dress For Brigitte Bardot, 1959
Jacques Esterel Pink Vichy Dress For Brigitte Bardot, 1959
Moschino / 'trompe l'oeil' coat , FW 2001
Moschino / ‘trompe l’oeil’ coat , FW 2001
Issey Miyake Flying Saucer, SS 1994
Issey Miyake Flying Saucer, SS 1994
Christian Dior The New Look, 1947
Christian Dior The New Look, 1947
Yves Saint Laurent The Mondrian Shift Dress, 1965
Yves Saint Laurent The Mondrian Shift Dress, 1965
Pierre Cardin space age fashion, 1960s
Pierre Cardin space age fashion, 1960s

It might surprise you to find out that the biggest challenge on the day of the photoshoot was the weather. With the temperature reaching 38°C (100°F), everyone was feeling very unpleasant and almost fainted. One memorable moment in particular happened when some cotton candy that was supposed to be used as a prop melted due to extreme heat before we had the chance to use it!

I must thank each member on my team because none of this would be possible without their hard work and efforts. Special thanks goes out to my make-up and hair artists, whose ingenuity and sense of beauty made my paper dolls that much more dramatic.


About the author: Ajax Lee is a Taiwan-based photographer and retoucher who is passionate about fashion & trends. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on 500px.

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