Vintage muse: Jackie Kennedy

Today I'm starting a new series focusing on style icons - women whose individual style permanently impacted fashion. I really enjoy learning more about woman who have embraced fashion and created trends of their own, and I thought you might too! I decided to start the series with Jackie Kennedy, because though her style transformed dramatically over the course of her life she is thought of as a sartorial muse to this very day.

Jackie Kennedy was born in 1929 in Southampton, New York. She is mostly know for being the wife of President John F Kennedy and her efforts to protect and restore many of America's historic buildings (did you know that she led an extensive campaign to save from demolition and renovate Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan? I didn't!) She is also regarded as the definitive style icon of the 1960s, for her chic, perfectly tailored suits and dresses, and delicate details such as elbow-length gloves and three-strand pearl necklaces.




Jackie Kennedy retained French-born American fashion designer Oleg Cassini in the fall of 1960 to create an original wardrobe for her as First Lady. A long time family friend, Cassini persuaded the first lady that she should use him as the creator of her total look, a decision that proved pivotal – setting the style for the 1960s with her clean suits, knee length skirts, 3/4 sleeves on notch-collar jackets, sleeveless A-line dresses, above-the-elbow gloves and famous pillbox hats. From 1961 to late 1963, Cassini dressed her in many of her most iconic ensembles, including her Inauguration Day coat and Inaugural gala gown as well as many outfits for her visits to Europe, India and Pakistan. In her first year in the White House, Kennedy spent $45,446 more on fashion than the $100,000 annual salary her husband earned as president. Although Cassini was her primary designer, she also wore ensembles by French fashion legends Chanel, Givenchy, and Dior.

More influential than any First Lady prior, her style was copied by commercial manufacturers and a large segment of young women. She is credited with not only making politics fashionable but also inspiring women around the world to adopt her look.

After her husband's assassination Jackie attempted to escape public scrutiny by moving her family from Washington to New York City, but she was continually hounded by paparazzi nonetheless. In 1968 she married shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, and her trademark style changed dramatically - from politico wife to woman of casual seventies elegance.





Wide-leg pantsuits, large lapel jackets, silk Herm├Ęs head scarves and large, round, dark sunglasses replaced shift dresses and pillbox hats. She often chose to wear brighter colors and patterns and even began wearing jeans in public. After Onassis died in 1975, Jackie took a job as an editor at Doubleday, where she worked to advance the contributions of African-American writers. She played an active civic role in the city as well, working with the American Ballet Theatre, the Literary Lions of the New York Public Library, the Central Park Conservancy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Municipal Arts Society, to save Grand Central Station from the wrecking ball.

Polished, chic and sophisticated until her death in 1994, she never had a bad fashion day and never took a bad photo. She is still referred to as one of the most influential women in fashion.


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