Imagine living in a world where you dream up the perfect dress. You can’t draw the fantastical whimsies of your imagination, so you hire an assistant sketch artist — his name is Valentino.
He sketches your look onto paper, then you phone up Yves Saint Laurent, who makes your haute couture dream come true.
Born into a life of privilege and marrying a count, this was the reality in which French aristocrat Jacqueline de Ribes, who’s now in her 80s, thrived in mid-20th century Paris. She is the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest exhibition at its Costume Institute, “Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style.”
Collaborating with the crème de la crème of ateliers from the 1960s onward, de Ribes went on to launch her own fashion label in the 1980s.
Visitors to the exhibition can revel in the sense of fantasy that de Ribes was able to realize through a combination of the resources available to her and her creative ability to convert her imaginative costumes into actuality through Valentino’s sketches and the craftsmanship of YSL and House of Dior.
The exhibit also recalls a who’s who of the French social scene in the 1960s and 1970s, with photographs of de Ribes hobnobbing with the likes of Salvador Dalí, Brigitte Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn.
Not to be missed at the show — de Ribes’ extraordinary fancy-dress costumes which she wore to society balls. De Ribes’ creations not only stand strong among the Diors, Armanis, Gaultiers and other couture in the show — they stand out, and represent the unique blend of daring-but-elegant that took de Ribes to her iconic status in the fashion world.