‹Download Press Release›
Press Images ››
Commissioned by the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG), the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave has designed figurines and accessories, which will be shown in "FRIEDERISIKO. Frederick the Great,” in the section of the exhibition devoted to "The Fashion Monkey.”
In 1742, the young Frederick wrote the farce "Le Singe de la Mode” (The Fashion Monkey) as a comment on everyday life at court and the vanities of society. The play premiered at Charlottenburg Palace to celebrate the wedding of Dietrich Caesarion Freiherr von Keyserlingk to Eleonore Luise Albertine Gräfin von Schlieben. Its assertions written between the lines, were intended less for the bride and groom than as a scathing message to the philosopher Jean Des Champs. As a result of an intrigue, Frederick the Great withdrew the favor he had shown towards Des Champs and publicly ridiculed him with this play, an act that was tantamount to one of the harshest punishments at court.
The Prinz-Heinrich-Wohnung (Apartments of Prince Henry) at the Neues Palais now creates the ideal "stage setting” for the adaptation of the play into sumptuous images. The luxurious palace interiors will be temporarily and vividly brought to life by Isabelle de Borchgrave's life-size paper figurines and numerous accessories, faithfully created from portraits of members of the Prussian court and true to detail.
The Marquis de la Faridondière
His Uncle's Friend
Comtesse de Belair, Confidante of the Marquis
La Barberina, a Dancer
A Woman Painter
At the center of attention is the Marquis de la Farindondière, whose efforts to follow the latest fashions threaten to fritter away the inheritance he is supposed to receive from his uncle. Consequently, the latter attempts to marry his nephew to an especially thrifty and well-behaved young woman so that the marquis might be torn away from his extravagant lifestyle. Throughout its scenes, the play also reflects and comments on those topics that preoccupied Frederick the Great: philosophy, architecture, painting, theater, etc. As a result of the irony used to present the narrative, a piece of the king's world view consistently gleams through to the surface.
Isabelle de Borchgrave began her career by giving painting lessons to children in a small studio in Sablon (Belgium). She set up and registered the company "Tour de Bébelle” in the 1970s, offering textiles that she designed, such as tablecloths, blankets and fabrics. De Borchgrave experimented with these, allowing motifs that she collected on trips to flow into her work from the most diverse cultures.
Her first major exhibition was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 1994, she created lavishly designed costumes made of paper. Ornamented with trompe l'oeil paintings that evince a great attention to detail, she created a new look for historical fashion that spanned from Elizabeth I of England to Coco Chanel. This was followed by representations of the incomparable plissés (pleats) of Mariano Fortuny and an exhibition about Medici fashion depicted in precious gold and fur-trimmed Renaissance garments.
As an artist, her name is connected worldwide with her extraordinary creations using paper. Nonetheless, she is also very active as a designer and works together with companies such as Villeroy & Boch, Caspari and Target.
Moreover, one of her greatest loves is painting. In addition to her costume presentations, de Borchgrave regularly exhibits paintings, which are strongly influenced by the Nabi movement.
We sincerely thank our sponsors for their generous support, which is responsible for making the presentation of "The Fashion Monkey” possible:
›› Freunde der Preußischen Schlösser und Gärten e.V.
›› Wallonie-Bruxelles International, Vertretung der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft, der Wallonie und der Föderation Wallonie-Brüssel in Deutschland (Berlin)
For further information about the exhibition and press photos, as well as to buy tickets online: