Fashion at the Met Museum: The Jacqueline de Ribes Exhibition

If you are interested in fashion, then the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current Costume Institute exhibition is something that you will enjoy. Titled Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, the exhibition includes more than sixty haute couture and ready-to-wear designs as well as artifacts from de Ribes’s personal archives. An international fashion icon spanning several decades in the 20th century, De Ribes inspired prestigious designers to create haute couture gowns for her to wear for special events and media ops beginning in the 1960s, and she eventually ran her own design business in the 1980s and 1990s. The exhibition includes elegant examples of both her own and others’ elegant fashion designs – in the process also illustrating some of the major fashion trends decade by decade.

Here’s just a sample of what you will find at the Costume Institute’s exhibition. It really is a feast for the eyes, and the photos can’t really do it justice. First, although there were many beautiful gowns, there were also examples of luxurious daywear. I particularly loved the lines of this ensemble (even if I’m personally opposed to the use of fur).


There are so many evening gowns, it’s hard to choose just one to feature here. But I want to leave plenty of surprises for when you visit the exhibition. For now, I’ve chosen this fuchsia gown, with its unusual silhouette and sparkling diamond ornamentation. You can see a few other colorful gowns in the background. Because the exhibition spans several decades, there are gowns of practically every color, solid and patterned, and with quite a variety of silhouettes.


I learned one thing from my visit to the exhibition that I found particularly interesting. De Ribes is not constrained by a particular outfit as it is originally designed. Instead, she sometimes develops accessories or alter dresses and other clothing items so that she can create something entirely new, even mixing the work of multiple designers (including her own designs) to create something special and unique. Among the examples of her creative, artistic approach to design in the exhibition are some fabulous ensembles for costume balls, including the one in this photo:


The Jacqueline de Ribes exhibition continues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through February 21, 2016. Museum curators periodically lead  guided tours of the exhibition as well (free with the cost of admission to the museum); check the museum calendar to see if a tour will be offered on the date of your visit.

The best way to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is by public transportation. If traveling by subway, take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 86th Street, and then walk west to Fifth Avenue. You can also reach the museum by bus on the M1, M2, M3, or M4 routes. If taking one of these routes going north, you will travel up Madison Avenue to the 83rd Street stop. If coming from points further north, take one of these bus routes south along Fifth Avenue to the 82nd Street stop, right next to the museum. There is a parking garage for those who prefer to drive themselves, but the rates are pretty expensive.

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