The legacy of one of the most revered style icons in American history cannot be overstated. While most stylish First Ladies had tastes that created trends, none have had a more enduring influence than Jackie Kennedy. From her start as a polished equestrienne to her rise to prominence as a tailored political wife, her sophisticated, chic fashion endures as a model of the highest level of grace and class.
Some highlights include her pillbox hats, Oleg Cassini gowns, oversized sunglasses, patterned headscarves and pearls—and that’s only a sampling. A dedicated patron of the arts who initiated an extensive restoration of the White House, Kennedy favored high-fashion labels like Givenchy and Chanel as First Lady; many such designs were copied and disseminated to the eager masses. The “Jackie” look was the early ’60’s look, but she adapted her style throughout her lifetime to both define and reflect contemporary modes. From the late ’60’s on, she was known to wear bright colors, jeans, turtlenecks, and silk headscarves, in addition to her wide collection of statement jewelry. Her fashion is well-documented, but her personal impact on several influential people deserves another mention.
“When I asked her if I should just turn myself over to a team of famous consultants as some in the media had recommended, she looked horrified. ‘You have to be you,’ she said. ‘You’ll end up wearing someone else’s idea of who you are and how you should look. Concentrate instead on what’s important to you.'” (Hillary Clinton, in Living History. Memoirs.)
“Few women in history have captured the imagination the way she did, and it was Jackie’s courage and grace that have made her image an enduring one. She was an original, an icon.” (Valentino, Designer)
“I think her style was very optimistic, when you really felt that America could accomplish anything. Optimistic in a luxury sense – in the sense that she was living the life everyone wanted to live! So I think that definitely influenced me…What she taught me about design is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. I remember seeing a picture of her walking in the park by her apartment in a sweater, really simple trousers, flats, and that sort of changed everything for me in a design sense. It made me realize that you can be really fashionable and really simple at the same time.” (Cynthia Rowley, Designer)