Butterfinger Paper Dress
Lightly creased, carefully laid down on mat. Very good.
“What’s new in the paper today?”
“Well, my wife, for one thing.”
–Ace Goodman, 1967 (as quoted in Dress and Popular Culture).
In the Pop Art era of the 1960s, art, fashion, and commodities were, as Andy Warhol demonstrated, ingredients of the same cultural soup. The paper dress fad was begun by the Scott Paper Company in 1966 as an advertising vehicle for its products. Designed to be disposable, the paper dress conceit quickly captured America’s attention–it became a new slate for political messages, other advertising, and, when paired with expensive accessories (as they were in the landmark Paper Dress Ball held by Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum in 1966), ironic statements on wealth and class. For a bright, pop moment, America became a place where we were all so fabulous, we could simply toss away our clothes at the end of a lost evening. “It is right for our age,” designer Julian Tomchin said, “after all, who is going to do laundry in space?” (Dress and Popular Culture, p.94).
The Butterfinger Paper Dress is the more vibrant of two dresses commissioned by the Curtiss Candy Company, the other being a plain-Jane Baby Ruth Dress. When faced with a choice between a Butterfinger or a Baby Ruth, the cool kids always choose Butterfinger.
Paper dress survivors of the gin-soaked wastebasket purge of evening’s end are quite rare.
See Patricia A. Cunningham ans Susan Voso Lab, eds., Dress and Popular Culture (Unknown: Popular Press, 1991).
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