Few First Ladies have had more influence on style as Jacqueline Kennedy. Her timeless style is still an inspiration for modern women who want to look elegantly sophisticated, and feminine.
As a young woman, Jacqueline lived in Paris and studied at the Sorbonne. While in Paris, she acquired her love of art history. Her studies at the Sorbonne combined with her time in Paris inspired her impeccable taste in fashion and style. And like every women who has ever spent any time in Paris, she also acquired an appreciation of French fashion designers. Even after leaving Paris she continued to dress in couture from French designers Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Chanel.
After her return to the United States she met the charismatic congressman from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. The couple was married in the fall of 1953. During this time, Mrs. Kennedy approached fashion with the same intensity that her husband approached politics. As the wife of a senator who was looking to the presidency, her taste in Parisian fashion sparked public debate. It was speculated that Mrs. Kennedy may be too extravagant to be relatable to the Middle American homemaker.
In 1960 John F. Kennedy began his run for the president of the United States. Mrs. Kennedy was issued a discrete ultimatum from her husband’s campaign to abandon her French fashion, and collaborate with American fashion designers instead. Oleg Cassini, a social acquaintance of the Kennedy’s, had recently opened a fashion house in New York City. Cassini successfully persuaded Jacqueline Kennedy to allow him to be her American fashion designer.
In 1961, when Jacqueline and John Kennedy moved into the White House, the new First Lady appointed Cassini as her exclusive couturier, and he became known as the creator of the “Jackie look”. Cassini was nicknamed the “Secretary of Style”. He created a wardrobe for Jacqueline that featured original and copies of Parisian designs. The First Lady often supplied Cassini with fabric swatches, sketches and pages torn from magazines. During the time Jacqueline Kennedy was First Lady he designed over 300 outfits for her which included evening gowns, coats, dresses, and suits.
Women across America fell in love with the “Jackie look” and flocked to copy her styles. Dresses that were inspired by her clothes flew out of the stores, and Cassini was firmly established as a great American designer. Although the roles of women in society have changed drastically in the last 50 years, Jacqueline Kennedy’s look still influences fashion today. From the pillbox hat, to the simple suit, and to the elegant gowns, women can find fashion inspiration by emulating the fashion of Jacqueline Kennedy.