A tale of two fashion exhibits

Jacqueline de Ribes (left), whose clothes will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Élizabeth, Countess Greffulhe, whose clothes will be on display at the Palais Galliera.

Meet two women who never had a problem finding something nice to wear in the morning.

The New York Times reports that the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Palais Galliera in Paris will both be debuting fashion exhibits this season featuring two distinctive women of style: “La Robe Retrouvée: Les Robes-Trésors de la Comtesse Greffulhe” (“Fashion Regained: The Treasured Dresses of Élisabeth, Countess Greffulhe”) at the Paris fashion museum, and “Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style” at the Met. Although the women lived half-century apart from each other, their sartorial similarities are apparent.

Harold Koda, curator in charge at the Costume Institute, has been working on the exhibit for eight years. The Met show will highlight 60 of Countess de Ribes’ outfits, primarily evening gowns from the 60s through the 90s. Known for her Nefertiti-like profile and immortalized by Richard Avedon, de Ribes was one of Truman Capote’s original swans along with Gloria Vanderbuilt and Marella Agnelli. A fashion icon in her own right, she was known to collaborate with the designers that dressed her so often that they would add her name to their (rather long) labels, (i.e. “Jacqueline de Ribes for Christian Dior under Marc Bohan”).

In 1982, her love of fashion inspired her to create her own line, which Mr. Koda said, was a “kind of idiosyncratic exoticism” marked by saturated colors, rigorous lines, asymmetry and an appreciation for the power of a strategically placed ruffle.” While it closed in 1995, her line is said to have paved the way for other female designers such as Caroline Herrera and Tory Burch.

Jacqueline de Ribes in a dress of her own design.

At the same time across the pond, Olivier Saillard, director of the Galliera, has chosen to pay homage to Élisabeth, Countess Greffulhe,the woman who inspired the character of the Duchess of Guermantes in Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time.” Fifty dresses will be on view from designers like Jeanne Lanvin and Charles Frederick Worth. Salliard was inspired to curate this collection because the clothing itself lends itself to a distinct narrative. The gowns are “about more than fashion,” Mr. Saillard said. “They are about a woman who built her own wardrobe to create an identity. The Comtesse de Greffulhe would “say to designers, ‘O.K., show me your whole collection — and now forget that, and do something else.”

The commonality between the two exhibits remains the women at the center of the fashion, both of whom had an independent attitude, which the NYT points out is “more timeless, even, than the dresses themselves.”

The Met’s exhibit debuts on November 18th  and runs through February 21, 2016, while the Palais Galliera’s began on the 7th and runs through March 20, 2016.