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Jacqueline de Ribes: the Art of Style

Start Date 19 November 2015
End Date 21 February 2016
Venue Metropolitan Museum of Art
Location New York, USA
Curator Harold Koda
12 dresses, ranging from blue, pink and orange and grouped into pairs, are worn on expressive mannequins on a brushed metal floor and wall.
Three silvery-grey outfits are worn on mannequins on the foreground. More outfits are shown in the background, in front of a large screen showing a runway show.
Three fancy-dress costumes in different tones of pink, complete with elaborately styles hair, hats and fascinators, stand separately in front of three screens showing stately homes

This Costume Institute exhibition focuses on the internationally renowned style icon Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, whose originality and elegance established her as one of the most celebrated fashion personas of the twentieth century. The thematic show features about sixty ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear primarily from de Ribes’s personal archive, dating from 1962 to the present. Also included 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.

A muse to haute couture designers, de Ribes had at her disposal their drapers, cutters, and fitters in acknowledgment of their esteem for her taste and originality. Ultimately, she used this talent and experience to create her own successful design business, which she directed from 1982 to 1995. 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.