A Countess and a Creator

November 24, 2015

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Let’s compare two recent and much-talked-about events: the first is in Manhattan from November 19, 2015 to February 21, 2016, while the second took place worldwide on Thursday, November 5th.

Any idea where this is heading? Let me enlighten you. The first is the Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It includes 60 ensembles from the personal archive of Countess de Ribes, a French aristocrat and fashion icon who has been on the International Best Dressed List since 1962.

The great style of Jacqueline de Ribes

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum, New York

The second is the spectacular one-day event of 27-year-old Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, and his 90-piece collection for 250 H&M stores that span the globe. This resulted in an astounding and record-breaking frenzy of shoppers and fans.

What is even more unbelievable is how two remarkable people, who are 59 years apart in age and have dissimilar backgrounds, can shake up the world of fashion. Let’s take a closer look at these two newsmakers.

Jacqueline de Ribes at the Met I saw the Countess (back in the day) at a Kips Bay Decorator Show House event, see Adea blog, An Inside Look at a Glam Life, July 29, 2015, and she is even more striking than she appears in photographs.

The famous profile of Jacqueline de Ribes, aka the Empress of Café Society.  Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum, New York

She was born in France in 1929 and is now a great-grandmother of three. At age 53, de Ribes began her own fashion label and even acquired clients in America.

On November 19th, I decided to go to the Met and see this exhibit, which is dramatically lit and beautifully presented. My favorite piece in the entire collection is a Balmain herringbone tweed suit that is teamed with a fur-trimmed cape. Fantastic!

There are also a number of photos and in many of them the Countess is in “work” situations. One, in particular, interested me because she was wearing jeans and a white shirt. I did a double take and said, “My God, she even makes jeans look ultra chic.”

Olivier Rousteing and Balmain x H&M The designer wants to make the 70-year-old Balmain name known to a new generation by recreating the beaded jackets, sequined minis and blingy accessories at lower price points than those that regularly come out of the luxury label’s Parisian atelier (meaning: four- and five-digit prices). Or, as he says, “I want to talk to my age group.”

Olivier Rousteing and his creations

The smashing success of this endeavor is nicely summed up in a piece by Elizabeth Paton in The New York Times, 11/8/15. She recounts, “In LONDON on Regent Street, 3,000 fashion fans clamored to get through the H&M flagship store for the Balmain x H&M collection. At least 500 had slept outside the store overnight.”

Paton also reports that one said, “I have traveled from BULGARIA and I’ve been here since 9 pm last night. I just want a single piece – that jacket.” Others used their smart phones to log on to the H&M website. No luck, it crashed. In SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA and NEW YORK fans shopped fast and furiously as H&M staffers restocked at the same pace. In SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA it was reported that shoppers had started lining up a week before the sale. Finally, in PARIS the collection sold out in less than three hours.

MAY WE SUGGEST…

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