On the heels of last summer’s blockbuster “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, “Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style” still managed to attract a strong showing.
During its three-month stretch, which ended Sunday, the de Ribes show had 194,820 visitors. That tally makes it the second most-attended fall exhibition at the Costume Institute since “Extreme Beauty” in 2001. Last fall’s “Death Becomes Her” pulled in 187,417 museum-goers. That exhibition was the first fall installment since “blog.mode” in 2007. The lapse was due to the transfer of the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection to The Met and the renovation of the Costume Institute galleries.
The Costume Institute’s fall shows are known to be more compact and more refined than the major spring ones, which canvas more space, feature considerably more objects and lead visitors into The Met’s special exhibition galleries.
As a designer herself, de Ribes fastidiously DIY-ed many of the 60-plus ensembles that were on view at The Met. Fearless about fashion and color, she has amassed a collection that includes pieces from Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Balmain, Bill Blass, Marc Bohan for the House of Dior, Alix Barton aka Madame Grès, Valentino Garavani and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November, The Met, Dior’s Sidney Toledano and de Ribes decided to cancel the black-tie dinner that had been planned for the opening, opting for a private viewing instead as a sign of respect. That quieter curtain-raising event and de Ribes’ decision to postpone traveling to New York for it did not seem to put a big dent in attendance figures.
Aside from being held in the spring, “China: Through the Looking Glass” had a much larger footprint, spanning through 16 galleries. In the end, the Asia-inspired exhibition had nearly 816,000 visitors, making it the strongest turnout for the Costume Institute and the Met’s fifth most-visited show in the museum’s history.
Now the Costume Institute’s curator in charge Andrew Bolton is immersed in preparations for this spring’s exhibition, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.”