Monday, November 23, 2015


Jacqueline de Ribes in YSL, 1962,  
If you're a Countess, a renowned style icon and a patron of the Paris Haute Couture you become one of the most celebrated fashion personas of the 20th century. The Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, still chic at 86, has graced the International Best Dress List 1962. When she established her own fashion house, her friend Yves Saint Laurent gave his blessing to the venture as a welcome projection of her elegance. 
  The exhibition, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, focuses on this French aristocrat whose profile prompted the famous photographer Richard Avedon to capture her image in photographs that pays homage to her commanding presence. The photo left: Jacqueline de Ribes in Yves Saint Laurent, 1962, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Richard Avedon, (c) Richard Avedon Foundation.
    The exhibition is on view in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Anna Wintour Costume Center through February 21, 2016.
Gallery View, Evening Wear (c) The Metropolitan Museum
"A close study of de Ribes's life of creative expression yields illuminating insights into her strategies of style," said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "Her approach to dress as a statement of individuality can be seen as a kind of performance art." With her breathtaking gowns and knack for accessories, the Countess always knew how to make an entrance. However, the Countess was a 'no show' at the opening gala. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Christian Dior cancelled the black-tie dinner because in the wake of the current events, the Countess canceled her trip to New York to stay in Paris. 

      Her absence was quite de riqueur and did not cast a shadow on the illuminating exhibition. It traces the socialite's collection of some 60 ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear from de Ribes's personal archive dating from 1962 to the present. Also included are her creations for fancy dress balls, which often made by cutting up and cannibalizing her haute couture gowns to create unexpected, thematic and conceptually nuanced expressions of her aesthetic. These along with photographs, video and ephemera, tell the story of how her interest in fashion developed over the decades, from childhood "dress-up" to the epitome of international style.
Jacqueline de Ribes in her own design, 1983
A muse to haute couture designers, they placed at the disposal their drapers, cutters and fitters in acknowledgment of their esteem for her taste and originality. Early on she realized that she could not sketch so upon recommendation from one of her designer friends she engaged the young Valentino as her sketcher. Ultimately she used her talent and experience to create her own successful design business directed from 1982 to 1995. Of her day-wear she said "My clothes have to be comfortable," and indeed they are the very essence of daytime chic. 

     Opposite: Jacqueline de Ribes in her own design, 1983. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Victor Skrebneski, Skrebneski Phtotograph (c) 1983.
     Designers represented in the exhibition include Pierre Balmain, Bill Blass, Marc Bohan for the House of Dior, Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Valentino Garavani, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Guy Laroche and others.
     Her high-society lineage certainly helped to fulfill her designing aspirations. Born into an aristocratic French family, she married Edouard, Vicomte de Ribes when she was nineteen and became the toast of high society. She garnered praise for her swan-like beauty and grace and was seen by many as the ultimate of Parisian elegance. In 2010, she received the Legion d'Honneur from French President Nicolas Sarkozy for her philanthropic and cultural contributions to France. 
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! Tours of the exhibition will be held Tuesday-Friday at 2:00 pm. The exhibition is featured on the Museum's website Fan mail always welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the links to Blogs in the left-hand column.

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