Sotheby’s France just took Christmas shopping to a whole new level. This week they will auction a part of the vast and private collection of Count Édouard and Countess Jacqueline de Ribes. The collection includes priceless pieces accumulated over six generations . The sale will include artwork, furniture, paintings and a beautiful collection of powder compacts, snuff boxes and cigarette cases. Beyond their beauty, these items are witnesses of an era and of a spectacular life lived to the full. For more on the fascinatingly glamorous life of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes – once hailed by Valentino as “the last queen of Paris” – read on…
Always one to make an entrance, Jacqueline de Ribes was born in Paris on Bastille Day 1929, into a great French aristocracy. The eldest child of the Count and Countess Jean de Beaumont, at age 19, she reinforced her already well-to-do social standing with a marriage to the Viscount Édouard de Ribes, a successful financier from an equally powerful family.
After an austere start to her married life, sharing a large home with her strict and oft disapproving parents-in-law, Jacqueline discovered that she had the character and the physique to become an international socialite (she would later be compared to “an ivory unicorn” by renowned French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent). Always a creative, Jacqueline filled her time hiring dressmakers and seamstresses to make her custom garments, which she later modified into her own elaborate creations and wore proudly to grand dinners and events.
On a trip to New York in the mid-50s, Jacqueline met famed Harper’s Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland who asked to photograph her. She obliged, and the resulting cameo-like profile portrait, taken by Richard Avedon with a glowing accompanying text from Truman Capote, was published in Life Magazine. It was this moment that skyrocketed Jacqueline into international fame – she became the new face of French elegance. She went on to forge relationships with the creme de la creme of the fashion world – Oleg Cassini, Valentino, Ungaro, John Fairchild, Emilio Pucci, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few.
Although she always had a passion for creation, it wasn’t until 1982 – shortly after her 53rd birthday – that Jacqueline announced her official upcoming as a fashion designer. With the help from her now good friend YSL, she launched her first collection at Paris Fashion Week in 1983. Her line was an immediate commercial and critical success, and she was soon exclusively contracted by Saks Fifth Avenue, grossing over $3 million by 1985.
Jacqueline’s creativity never stopped at fashion. She’s written an anonymous column for Marie Claire. She’s headed up international charities. She took over International Ballet of the Marquis de Cuevas. She even tried her hand in television production with some of the biggest names in 1970s Hollywood. Aristocrat, fashion icon, entrepreneur, writer and philanthropist, living legend Jacqueline de Ribes remains as influential today as she’s always been.
So if you would like to own a small, or not so small part of the Ribes heritage, then head over to Sotheby’s here, browse their catalogue and why not place your bid. Part 1 of “La Collection Ribes” will be offered for sale on December 11-12 (with Part 2 coming to the block in Spring 2020). A portion of the proceeds will go to the Ribeses’ preferred charities.