Imagine being called a cross between a Russian princess and a girl of the Folies Bergères? That’s how Jacqueline de Ribes’s father-in-law once described her. And I can attest to the fact that the Comtesse lives up to her reputation. First, there’s the height, then there’s the figure – oh to have her proportions – and of course the face – the legendary profile – and her grace, actually. The latter is set off by her humor. Jacqueline is unexpectedly funny. However, since she’s a razor-sharp, enquiring exotic bird that chirps away, it’s essential to keep up with her. To miss three words is to miss Jacqueline’s punch line. Personally, I remain particularly fascinated by her gestures and movements. She possesses pretty elegant feet – suiting her long, shapely legs – but as she swishes around it’s as if she’s on tiptoe. Then there’s her wrist action when eating. I have watched her dunk soldier-like wafers into a pot of honey. Making me realize that her inner chic is defining nonchalance and being entirely oblivious to the glances of others. Bravo!
"Her inner chic is defining nonchalance and being entirely oblivious to the glances of others."
Recently, along with Bernard Arnault – LVMH’s luxury Tsar – Jacqueline was the hostess of a 300-sitdown dinner for the friends of the Musée d’Orsay. In honor of Impressionism and Fashion – the must see exhibition – it was organized by Françoise Dumas, Paris’s best party organizer. Naturally, tout le monde was there but Jacqueline was le showstopper in her long sequined jacket and black satin trousers. I happened to follow her around the show – superbly organized by Robert Carson – and her enthusiasm for all the paintings by Berthe Morisot, Tissot and Degas was a joy to witness. In 2014, an exhibition of Jacqueline’s life is planned at the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art. How very wise of Harold Koda, the curator.
Text by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.