Jacqueline de Ribes, the celebrated style icon renowned for elegance and originality is the subject of a new exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style.” The exhibition features over fifty ensembles from her personal archive spanning the 1960’s to the present.
Born into French aristocracy, as Jacqueline de Beaumont, de Ribes spent most of her life surrounded by nobility.
As you descend the staircase to the gallery, the photograph of de Ribe’s famous Nefertiti profile taken by Richard Avedon takes center stage. A black and white film of photographs and videos play in a sea of Haute Couture and ready-to-wear pieces from designers like Giorgio Armani, Pierre Balmain, Bill Blass, Marc Bohan for Dior, Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Madame Grès, Valetino, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Guy Laroche, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, and Jacqueline de Ribes herself.
What’s most captivating about the exhibition are the stories; de Ribes requests to change a couturiers vision without protest or arriving at a dinner party while dessert was being served in an unforgettable ensemble. In the words of Reinaldo Herrera, “The world of Jacqueline de Ribes knows no boundaries; her imagination is in everything she does and her curiosity makes a palpable reality of fantasy. She creates, she frightens, she charms, she amuses. She is so many things, one forgets her unique beauty.”
A sheer cutout in 1966 - so before its time! Yves Saint Laurent was ahead in his designs, but Jacqueline was ever more, and long before Barbra Streisand wore Arnold Scaasi to the Academy Awards in 1969, prompting gasps in the audience and television viewers worldwide. (Left: Yves Saint Laurent, Autumn/Winter 1968-69, Right: Yves Saint Laurent, Spring/Summer 1966)
A necklace collar and bracelet cuffs on a sheer Kaftan, how fabulous is that? (Yves Saint Laurent, Spring/Summer 1967)
(Christian Dior, Autumn/Winter 1959-60)
A feather trimmed jumpsuit long before they were a 1970’s craze. (Yves Saint Laurent, Autumn/Winter 1968-69)
A goddess like dress gives the appearance of one piece of fabric draped over the body… Seamless and timeless. (Jacqueline de Ribes, Spring/Summer 1985)
Will someone please revive the costume balls?
Top left: Designed by Jacqueline de Ribes for the Bal Oriental, December 1969
Top right: Jacqueline’s gown for the “My Fair Lady Ball,” June 1965
Bottom: Designed by Jacqueline de Ribes for “Du côté de Ferriéres,” December 1971
A pale pink silk double faced satin silhouette, classically Jacqueline, designed for her Autumn/Winter line in 1983-84. (Right: Guy Laroche, Spring/Summer 1962)
Left & Right Jean Paul Gaultier, Spring/Summer 1999
“Clothes, like good architecture, have to correspond to a rhythm of life. You can’t be elegant without being graceful, and you cant be graceful if you’re not at ease.” – Jacqueline de Ribes
Fashion collages, a mash-up of high and low, the true art of style: “Intelligence, discipline, creativity, and originality.” (Harold Koda) Only Jacqueline could pair a Roberto Cavalli waistcoat and cardigan with an Emanuel Ungaro Haute Couture skirt and belt or a Caché jacket with a Ralph Lauren Skirt. (Left: Waistcoat, cardigan, and sweater (Roberto Cavalli, 1981-82) Skirt and belt (Emanuel Ungaro, HC 2000) Right: Style by Jacqueline de Ribes, Jacket (Caché, 1999), Skirt (Ralph Lauren, 2000))
“Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style” presents lessons in sartorial choices and personal style at every turn. Style transcends decades and follows no rules, but it does follow you throughout your life, and Jacqueline has style in spades.
You can see The Art of Style until February 21 at the
Anna Wintour Costume Centre at The MET.
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028