Its the last in my NYC series! I am a massive Gossip Girl fan, and for that reason, the MET museum and the Upper East Side were high up on my list of areas in New York I wanted to cover in my short time there. Ultimately my wish was to sit on the MET steps much like Blair and Serena’s pre-school ritual and stare, looking equally cultivated and debonair, into the municipal beyond.
Unfortunately it is incredibly challenging in reality to do this when wearing so many layers you can barely bend your limbs (thank you, -3°C New York January weather, for ruining my potentially sophisticated wardrobe choices). For this reason I took my shallow and icy perch for no more than about 5 seconds before getting up and skipping inside. Respect, Blair Waldorf, I don’t know how you hadn’t ever frozen your Marc Jacobs-clad butt off.
Once inside the MET in the safety of old walls and a more friendly climate, we headed straight for the Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style exhibition. I thought it was challenging navigating the actual city of New York, but you haven’t known lost until you’ve found yourself in the maze-like Metropolitan Museum at closing time.
We arrived in the final hour, meaning the rule was “pay what you like”, but with this perk came a responsibility to effectively remove yourself from the building when the clock struck 5pm, something which proved more difficult that anticipated when we were about 5 galleries deep met some very curt security and no directions.
The Jacqueline de Ribes exhibition itself was magnificent and like nothing I’d expected. I’ve been to very few clothing exhibitions before, and my experience had previously been limited to a few savoured visits to the V&A whilst studying at A Level.
This Costume Institute exhibition focuses on style icon Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, one of the most celebrated fashion faces of the twentieth century. Her originality and elegant nature won her this reputation, and the show features about sixty ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear primarily from de Ribes’s personal archive, from 1962 to the present. These also include her own creations for fancy dress balls.
The Countess is in interviews seen repeatedly wearing essentially the same dress: a casual, Cashmere, relaxed ensemble that’s snug on the hips. This speaks of de Ribes’ logic of dressing, “if you are comfortable, if you look good, there is no need for change for the sake of change.”
By insisting on an enduring appeal, her looks transcend the cycles of fashion and trend. As she says “In every era, no matter what the fashion, and however extreme, you will always find examples of elegance.”