Jacqueline de Ribes - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia

French designer

Born: Jacqueline de Beaumont in Paris, 1931. Education: Studied architecture. Family: Married Comte Edouard de Ribes, 1947; children: Elizabeth, Jean. Career: Freelance fashion designer, Paris, from 1982; showed first collection, 1983; jewelry collection introduced, 1984; continued to show designs publicly and privately, 1990s; remained active in charity circuit. Awards: Rodeo Drive award, Los Angeles, 1985.


On de RIBES:


Nars, François, and André Leon Talley, X-Ray, New York, 1999.

Seren, François-Xavier, Noblesse Oblige: Intimate Portraits of European Nobility, 1985-2000, New York, 2001.


"Parisienne," in Holiday (Philadelphia), January 1956.

Donovan, Carrie, "Social Graces," in the New York Times Magazine, 10 July 1983.

"Jacqueline de Ribes Style: Allure and Tradition," in Vogue, May 1984.

Morris, Bernadine, "Jacqueline de Ribes Had a Design Suited to Success," in the New York Times, 30 September 1985.

Shapiro, Harriet, "Going from Riches to Rags, Designing Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes Reaps as She Sews: Handsomely," in People Weekly, 16 December 1985.

"Jacqueline de Ribes," in Harper's Bazaar, April 1986.

Connet, Jennet, "The Social Sewing Circle; Those Designing Blue Bloods Get Ever so Haute," in the Newsweek, 30 July 1986.

Morris, Bernadine, "Laurent: Classic Canon, Soberly Restated—Yves Saint Laurent, Patrick Kelly, and Jacqueline de Ribes," in the New York Times, 24 March 1988.

Dryansky, G.Y., "Jacqueline de Ribes Jewelry: Specially for the Upper Crust," in Connoisseur, April 1988.

Bogart, Anne, "Regal Air," in Harper's Bazaar, September 1989.

Menkes, Suzy, "Couture's Grand Ladies," in the Illustrated London News, Spring 1990.

"Jacqueline de Ribes," in Town & Country, September 1995.

Hollander, Anne, "Viva la Haute Couture! Reports of Its Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated," available online at Slate.com , www.slate.com , 10 Decemeber 1997.

Menkes, Suzy, "Couture in Euroland: A New Confidence in Gallic Chic," in the International Herald Tribune, 19 January 1999.

Glueck, Grace, "François-Xavier Seren— Noblesse Oblige: Intimate Portraits of European Nobility, 1985-2000 [review], 13 July 2001.


When the January 1956 Holiday magazine featured Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes in the series "The Most Fashionable Women" she was, at the age of 25, already recognized for her good taste in clothes. Even then she favored line and color over excessive detail. Growing up in privileged surroundings, she had worn couture all of her life, secretly harboring a desire to become a fashion designer herself, an occupation unsuitable for someone of her status.

Throughout her life de Ribes had been making suggestions to the couturiers who dressed her, bringing sketches, making changes, so when she took the plunge and produced a collection for fall 1983, she was using all of her years of exposure to haute couture, synthesizing with it her own carefully developed aesthetic taste. It helped that another society woman, Carolina Herrera, had successfully entered the fashion business two years before.

Known as a great beauty with an aristocratic profile and demeanor, possessed of a tall, long-necked, slender figure, de Ribes designed what she knew best: evening dresses and sophisticated daytime suits. The gowns were long, slim, with shoulder interest consisting of dramatic ruffles, drapes, or simple bows. Tailored suits were detailed with black velvet. The clothes were expensive ready-to-wear, each suit or gown priced at thousands of dollars. Clearly de Ribes was designing for herself, and for women with her money and physical elegance. The clothes were well received in Paris and especially by American buyers. Critics did point out that de Ribes's work showed the clear influence of Saint Laurent, Dior, Cardin, and Valentino. She knew, nevertheless, how to create elements to focus on her own special "look."

Consistent with her emphasis on color and line, de Ribes continued to design plain, almost severe, dinner suits in bright pastel satins. Her gowns of unadorned bright or deep colors became the perfect background for her next venture—jewelry. To maintain her own less-is-more philosophy, de Ribes turned to designing jewelry deliberately made of nonprecious materials such as rhinestones, beads, fake pearls, even ceramics. Her clients had adequate supplies of real jewelry; de Ribes' designs were a chunky, modern, dramatic, perfect adornment for her clothes.

Even lace could find an eye-catching use in a slim black de Ribes gown featuring a V-shaped bodice and side insertions of see-through fabric. The highest of compliments was paid to the designer when Carolyne Roehm, another socialite designer of the late 1980s, created a long black evening gown featuring sections of sheer black georgette in a similar fashion. By 1990 de Ribes had softened her look, her evening gowns began to be made of gathered, draped bodices and yards of sherbet-hued chiffon. An even younger look evolved the next year with the introduction of above-the-knee cocktail dresses, with seductive side draping or flouncy layered organza.

In the late 1990s de Ribes traveled to show fashions at charity balls; she remained her own best advertisement. Though she had slowed her pace, she was always impeccably dressed and commanded attention. As a testament to her skills as a designer, former fashion wild child Jean-Paul Gaultier, who had harnessed his bad-boy energy into beautifully tailored collections, not only cited de Ribes as a major inspiration but dedicated his spring/summer 1999 show to her. "I was flattered that he dedicated the show to me," de Ribes told Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune in January 1999. "It was fun, young, elegant, and modern all at the same time—and that's not easy."

Jacqueline de Ribes, as socialite and designer was prominently profiled in two recent books, X-Ray, by photographer François Nars and André Leon Talley (1999) and François-Xavier Seren's Noblesse Oblige: Intimate Portraits of European Nobility, 1985-2000 (2001). Both featured a perfectly coiffed, bejeweled, and flawlessly dressed de Ribes, creating a striking and unforgettable image of the designer.

—Therese DuzinkiewiczBaker;

updated by NellyRhodes

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