Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Craftmanship of Haute Couture


Hi all,

I had a flying visit to NYC last weekend to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (if you want to read more about THAT experience, visit my author blog at wendymcleodmacknight.com).

While I spent the entire weekend in a ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, I had enough time on Monday morning to pop over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before catching a cab out to the airport for my flight home.

The last time I was at The Met, the Costume Institute section was closed, so I was delighted to find it open this time and more than delighted when I realized that the Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style exhibit was still on.

I'm not going to lie - I was only peripherally aware of her existence before this exhibit (though that is more than she is aware of mine!) and mostly in the context of her being one of Capote's Swans.

But as I read about her life, saw the videos and pictures, and most of all, looked at the outfits she had chosen for the exhibits, I fell madly in love with her.

The woman was glamour personified.

It was one of my first opportunities to see real haute couture up close.

It did not disappoint. The material and craftsmanship was breathtaking. Even as I write this, wearing a J Crew t-shirt that is only one year old and has a large hole in the underarm, I am struck but what a really fine artist can do with beautiful fabrics.






She was born glamorous and with a body made to wear these kinds of clothes...


And in an era where people still dressed elegantly....


If you get a chance to get in to see this exhibit before it closes in February, you will not be sorry!

As an update, It's a Mystery, Pig-Face! has a real publication date - the first week of February, 2017! It is a long time away, I know, but I guess that's the publishing business. Meanwhile, I have been on a very tight deadline to complete and pass in my next book, which is a completely different middle grade novel. Busy times indeed.

How's my minimalist 2016 going? Very well. Thus far I have bought one thing - a black blazer that I needed to replace an old one. I am missing all the sales, but really, that's a good thing!
Hope you are all well, and if you can recommend any books about Jacqueline de Ribes, please do - I am dying to learn more about her! I did find this wonderful article here.

xoxo wendy

16 comments:

  1. HI Wendy,
    Glad you are back, and how wonderful to go to the Hyatt. I was at the Met yesterday, coincidentally. I did see the Jacqueline De Ribes exhibition. She was stunning and glamorous. But, what struck me as a textile- phile is that with exception of a few ball gowns, I thought that few of the pieces were really a testament to the exquisite workmanship of that era, that I consider museum level couture. I was more impressed by the magnificent way that E. Vigee- Le Brun captured fabric in her paintings.
    Congrats on your publication date. That is big news!

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    1. So funny - but pejaps you have seen more of these gowns than I. I thought so much was gorgeous!

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  2. Exciting times....the book date!
    I hope to snag a copy for my grand children...when the time comes.

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  3. Well, first, congratulations! Wonderful news!

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  4. Now about JdeR and her gowns and (learned) elegance. I'm with KnitYarns - that exhibit is a great collection of fabrics, but very few things are original in style or cut. JdeR's allure was not her wardrobe.

    I'm sporadically taking things out of closet, discarding a few, retaining others. In the past week, I've found: a jacket with a Union label. A suit that was made at Saks in their long-gone private custom department, oh, the seams, the buttonholes, the cuffs, the way the collar is set... there's a special place in hell for whoever invented the serger. And I found a few department store scarves, not considered unusual at the time, but - handrolled hems, all silk...

    I don't like the idea of Closet As Family Shrine, but look! I seem to have one. and certainly the older generations made some howling mistakes, a silver leather trench coat comes to mind, my aunt couldn't give it away! She gave it to me, and my mother made me give it back, only my aunt refused to take it, so mom put it in the box for the St Vincent de Paul Society. They collected the box and then brought the coat back. So what I'm wittering on about is that I'm wishing there could be a museum for Nice Clothes That Regular People Wore On Regular Days.

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    1. ha! Well I bow down to you and Knityarns! In my backwater, it's damn swanky and lovely! Start that museum, Fred!

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  5. I have to agree with WFF and KnitYarns, I wasn't impressed by the Jacqueline de Ribes exhibit. It felt like the museum curators were grasping for something to show in the gap between last year's China exhibit and the upcoming Manus ex Machina exhibit. I felt many of the styles, esp. those from the 1980s, were stuck with in era, and didn't have any elements that could be translated to modern day. The Elisabeth Vigée le Brun exhibit was much more interesting - hopefully you will get a chance to go back to NYC to see it before it ends.

    Huge congrats on the book release date!!! How exciting!!

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    1. Thanks Louise! I have definitely been schooled, but honestly, I loved the exhibit. Perhaps it was meant for folks like me?

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  6. How exciting to have a publishing date, Wendy, and a follow-up book on its way - congratulations! Has your cover been designed yet? I illustrated a number of books for children when I was working but never got to meet the authors. I don't know if they were happy with my interpretation of their characters!
    I've never heard of de Ribes but looked at your links. A very aristocratic looking lady, she could wear a sack and still look elegant!

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    1. The cover is done and there will be a big reveal soon! I am very happy with it! It's funny - I was thinking of the illustrator the other day - I want to send him a heartfelt thank you note!

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  7. Hell Wendy, I just literally "stumbled" on your blog after reading about a novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Pure co-incidence. I thought in the end Capote had an enormous falling out with Babe Paley et al as he indiscreetly portrayed them in a novel and they were not happy. best Yvonne from Australia.

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    1. That is so interesting Yvonne! Now I have to look for that book - thanks!

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