26 September 2009
261. Woman of Sartorial Excellence: Jacquline Kennedy Onassis
During her husband's presidency, Jacqueline Kennedy became a symbol of fashion for women all over the world. She retained French-born American fashion designer and Kennedy family friend Oleg Cassini in the fall of 1960 to create an original wardrobe for her as First Lady. From 1961 to late 1963, Cassini dressed Mrs. Kennedy in many of her most iconic ensembles, including her Inauguration Day fawn coat and Inaugural gala gown as well as many outfits for her visits to Europe, India and Pakistan. Mrs. Kennedy's clean suits, sleeveless A-line dresses and famous pillbox hats were an overnight success around the world and became known as the "Jackie" look. Although Cassini was her primary designer, Mrs. Kennedy also wore ensembles by French fashion legends such as Chanel, Givenchy, and Dior. More than any other First Lady her style was copied by commercial manufacturers and a large segment of young women.
In the years after the White House, her style changed dramatically. Gone were the modest "campaign wife" clothes. Wide-leg pantsuits, blue jeans, large lapel jackets, silk Hermes head scarves and large, round, dark sunglasses were her new look. She also experimented with different styles, often wearing a large amount of jewelry, hoop earrings with her hair pulled back, and gypsy skirts.
Jackie Kennedy's impact on fashion also had tons to do with the recent booming influence of television (which also helped her husband John snatch the Presidency from Richard Nixon), and thrusted her as first lady into households like no other before or after her. Women everywhere took note, especially those in the American workforce and the way they approached fashion was never the same again. Today style minded first lady, Michelle Obama carries the baton Jacqueline first set off nearly 50 years ago, taking sartorial risks not seen since the Kennedy administration.