Jacqueline Bouvier, photographed by Horst P. Horst on the announcement of her marriage to John F. Kennedy, 1953 .
The 1960’s were considered to be a time for change, and that is exactly what first lady Jacqueline Kennedy did for White House fashion. Jackie Kennedy became a fashion icon during her few years as first lady and her influence on women’s attire continued throughout her life. Everyone fell in love with Jackie’s grace and style largely because of her wonderful fashion choices.
Jackie Kennedy loved wearing bright colors such as pink, yellow, red and ivory. Her own personal fashion icon was Audrey Hepburn and throughout her life, Jackie’s style would always feature the flavor of Hepburn’s old Hollywood glamor. As a result, Jackie chose Hubert de Givenchy as her go-to designer since Givenchy created looks for Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ Jackie Kennedy’s daywear generally consisted of simple sleeveless dresses, Chanel jackets and A-line skirts by Dior, paired with her signature pillbox hat, pumps, long white gloves and usually pearls or brooches.
For days around the White House or in the office, Jackie opted for a high-waist trousers paired with a blouse, turtleneck or cashmere sweater. Jackie always completed her daywear with her black, oversized sunglasses – a trend that is still in style.
For eveningwear, Jackie’s style was generally a sleeveless look in a single color with a founded or bateau neckline as well as long sheath dresses that showed off her slim figure. Jackie also loved backless or off-the shoulder gowns, which made her look like Hollywood royalty. Her shoes and accessories would always match her evening apparel perfectly. A pair of white gloves was another signature accessory of Jackie Kennedy’s.
She also knew the meaning of the word ‘occasion.’ When traveling to foreign countries, Jackie always dressed accordingly to complement the customs of her host nation. For example, when visiting India, her style was more conservative than what she would wear to an American event. It’s this quality that helped foster Jackie’s classic and classy sense of style and drew infatuation from people all over the world.
Where to start a post about Jackie Bouvier, Kennedy, Onassis, who was and still is a style icon? I did go to the exhibition ‘Jackie Kennedy, the White House Years’ in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001 and it was one of the best I’ve ever seen (except ofcourse the exhibition of Alexander McQueen at the same museum). To see these clothes, you know so well from all pictures and tv broadcasts, from nearby was an amazing experience.
The reason for the exhibition was to mark the 40th anniversary of her emergence as America’s First Lady and to explore her enduring global influence on style. Some 80 original costumes and accessories had come from the collection of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, to which the former First Lady donated these landmark pieces after she left the White House. The collection included elements from her formal White House wardrobe – what Mrs. Kennedy herself called her “state clothes” – as well as pieces worn during her husband’s 1960 presidential campaign. Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of Vogue, served as creative consultant. “Jacqueline Kennedy is one of history’s great style icons. Her profound influence on the way an entire generation wanted to look, dress, and behave cannot be overestimated.” Hamish Bowles Hollywood’s preeminent designer, Edith Head, called her ‘the greatest single influence [on fashion] in history’
Advice to Jackie
Jackie studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and she returned with a smart, sophisticated Parisian wardrobe, containing pieces of Givenchy, Balenciaga and Chanel. When John F.’s career climbed the ladder, Jackie was issued a discreet ultimatum: For political expediency : Cut the Paris cord. She began consulting with Diana Vreeland, the fashion oracle, on a selection of American designers. In December, the Hollywood costumer Oleg Cassini, a French-born American of aristocratic Russian and Italian descent, was made official designer of her White House wardrobe. An old family friend, Cassini would create for his star client a polished wardrobe of both original designs and Paris copies—for which Jackie often supplied sketches, pages torn from magazines, and fabric swatches.
Another advice came from Manhattan hairdresser Kenneth: loose the short, wavy “Italian Cut” hairdo, grow your hair and stretch it out on rollers. (In the coming years, Kenneth will be responsible for Jackie’s famous trend-setting bouffant)
On the Inauguration Day, January 20, 1961, Jackie dressed in Cassini’s trim greige coat, worn with Halston’s news-making pillbox hat and a little sable circlet and muff. It set the tone for the new first lady’s wardrobe.
For the 1961 celebration,Jackie Kennedy collaborated on a design with Bergdorf Goodman’s Ethel Frankau and Emeric Partos. “What you see with the inaugural gown is the triumph of her own personal style,” the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Valerie Steele has said. “To use fashion as a way of representing her husband’s presidency—to look modern, elegant, simple and American.” An Ivory column with silver embellished bodice, veiled with a sheer overblouse and a matching cape to add a royal touch.
Jacqueline Kennedy’s Inaugural Gala Gown. Ivory silk satin evening gown, by Oleg Cassini, American, 1961. Worn by Jacqueline Kennedy to the Inaugural Gala, National Guard Armory, Washington, D.C., January 19, 1961 the evening before President Kennedy’s inauguration. The cockade at the waist pointed to Jacqueline Kennedy’s pride in her French Bouvier ancestry and her profound love of history.
Jackie Kennedy wears a red wool day dress by Christian Dior for a televised tour of the White House on Valentine’s Day in 1962
Nobel Prize winners diner
A Grecian draped Celadon column in silk jersey, draped to form a pleated skirt and a gathered bust line. Designed by Oleg Cassini.
This dress was worn by the First Lady to the dinner honoring the Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere at the White House in Washington, 1962.
Opening of the Mona Lisa exhibit
Pink silk chiffon strapless evening dress. This sari inspired evening dress is delicately beaded with porcelain and rhinestones. Jackie had noticed a photograph of Audrey Hepburn wearing the original yellow version of the dress in the May 11, 1962 issue of Life magazine, designed by Hubert de Givenchy. She supplied Cassini with a sketch from which he created this version after a spring-summer 1962
Visiting the Pope
A full-length long-sleeved black dress in black Alaskine with a taffeta petticoat. This dress was worn by Jacqueline Kennedy during her audience with Pope John XXIII, Vatican, Rome, March 11, 1962. Protocol requires that women wear a mantilla or hat and dressed in black.
This dress is one of my favorites worn by the First Lady, because of the fabulous simplicity.
Jacqueline Kennedy wore a double-breasted, strawberry pink and navy trim collared Chanel wool suit on November 22, 1963, when her husband, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Accompanying the suit was a trademark pillbox hat in matching pink. The suit has become an emblem for her husband’s assassination and one of the iconic items of fashion of the 1960s. It has been variously described as “a famous pink suit which will forever be embedded in America’s historical conscience“, as “one of those indelible images Americans had stored: Jackie in the blood-stained pink Chanel suit”, as “the most legendary garment in American history“, and as “emblematic of the ending of innocence“. Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashion icon, and this outfit is arguably the most referenced and revisited of all of her items of clothing and her trademark.
A beautiful illustrated, very inspirational, must-have book.
“I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.
-John F. Kennedy-