On the evening of December 5, 1969, the beau mode was assembling for dinners at the most elegant tables in Paris, pre-gaming for the fancy-dress part of the year, if not the decade - Baron Alexis de Rede's "Bal Oriental." Among the most impenetrable of these preparatory gatherings was that of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the international jet set's de facto king and queen. Dining with the elect at the Windsors' that night was couturier Oscar de la Renta. "The first course, the second course, the third course and finally the dessert arrived," de la Renta recalls, "and still Jacqueline de Ribes had not appeared. The Duke was furious!" Suddenly, the dining-room doors opened and in glided the Vicomtesse de Ribes. An exotic vision, the aristocratic beauty was swaddled from the pinnacle of her tasseled hat to the tips of her pointed slippers in a fantastically opulent Turkish disguise, ingeniously cobbled together by the Vicomtesse herself from three of her old haute couture dresses; organza lame from a remnant market; and a sable cape, acquired from an impoverished ballerina. Recalls de la Renta, "It was a show. And she was the star. No one knew like Jacqueline the power of an entrance."
Read more in this divine article from Vanity Fair about "The Last Queen of Paris."
Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 19, 2015 - February 21, 2016
The Costume Institute exhibition will focus 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 will feature about sixty ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear primarily form de Ribes's personal archive, dating from 1959 to the present. Also included will be 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 and ephemera, will 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 acknowledgement of their esteem for their 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 will focus on her taste and style, extensive documentation from her personal archives will illustrate the range of her professional life, including her roles as theatrical impresario, television producer, interior design and director and organizer of international charity events.
Read more here.