Whether you like Costumes, Fashion or simply looking to indulge in a few hours of haute couture peeping, the internationally renowned style icon Countess Jacqueline de Ribes exhibit, is a wonderful intake of style lessons from one of the best dressed women that has ever lived.
Beautifully curated by Harold Koda and like it’s focus subject impeccably elegant, the thematic exhibit showcases about sixty ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear primarily from de Ribes’s personal archive, dating from 1962 to the present.
Jacqueline Bonnin de La Bonninière de Beaumont was born on July 14, 1929 in Paris to Jean de Beaumont, comte Bonnin de la Bonninière de Beaumont and Paule de Rivaud de La Raffinière. De Ribes had a dark, if privileged, childhood in wartime France, there were châteaux with Gestapo staying in them and parents that were as glacial as they were glamorous. Once a particularly flamboyant uncle took her to buy some dresses at Christian Dior (“I’m the last customer on Earth who remembers the actual Christian Dior,” she points out). What followed was a lifetime of haute couture patronage to Dior, Jean Desses, Emanuel Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent etc.
In January the 30th of 1948 at age 18 and fresh out of the convent, Jacqueline married Vicomte de Ribes, a successful banker who subsequently became comte de Ribes. They had two children, Elizabeth and Jean who make her a now at age 86, a great-grandmother of three who is still quite busy in Paris. She was widowed several years ago and mourns her husband deeply.
De Ribes is unusually beautiful, with a long, graceful neck and a big, distinctive nose that inspired Richard Avedon (who photographed her dozens of times at the suggestion of Diana Vreeland) to express pity for all the other girls in the world with noses less extreme. Soon, lots of people were calling her Nefertiti.
A muse to haute couture designers, Jacqueline used the acknowledgment of couture’s drapers, cutters, and fitters in of their esteem for her taste and originality. Ultimately, she created her own successful design business, which she directed from 1982 to 1995, picking up clients in America (Barbara Walters, for one), Tokyo, and elsewhere with a collection that matched her lifestyle: black-tie dresses with long sleeves and necklines, but also suggestive panels of sheer black lace.
Within the featured pieces are her creations for fancy-dress balls, which she often made by cutting and cannibalizing her haute couture gowns to create nuanced expressions of her aesthetic. These, along with photographs, video, and ephemera, tell the story of how her interest in fashion developed over decades, from childhood “dress-up” to the epitome of international style. While the exhibition focuses on her taste and style, extensive documentation from her personal archives illustrates the range of her professional life, including her roles as theatrical impresario, television producer, interior designer, and director and organizer of international charity events.
Jacqueline de Ribes The Art of Style exhibit is open to the public from November 19, 2015–February 21, 2016 at The Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Jacqueline De Ribes exhibit a must see triumphal and relevant celebration of haute couture and style.