Natalie Portman's already getting Oscar buzz for her role in the biopic Jackie, opening in select theaters today. Portman is clearly stunning and stylish, but we bet she felt just a little bit nervous filling the fashionable shoes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie's clothing choices still feel fresh as ever (hello, leopard coat and knee-high boots)—but there's plenty we didn't know about the history behind her fashion sense. In honor of the new Jackie movie, here are seven fascinating tidbits about Jackie O's legendary style:
Her wedding dress was designed by a prominent African American designer
Jackie’s gorgeous fairy-tale gown is the work of Ann Lowe, an African American designer whose Madison Avenue dress salon was a destination for debutantes and members of high society.
Things didn't go smoothly during the creation of Jackie’s wedding dress: The NY Post reports that Lowe’s salon flooded 10 days before the wedding day, destroying many dresses—including Jackie’s gown, which had taken two months to make. Lowe bought more fabric and hired seamstresses to recreate the gown in time for the wedding, and she never told Jackie or her family that the expenses caused Lowe to lose over $2,000 on the gown. Later, the Post reports that when Lowe went to hand-deliver the gown, guards at the wedding venue tried to make her use the service door because of the color of her skin.
Lowe’s dresses appeared in the pages of the NY Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Town and Country without proper credit, according to the National Archives, but she’s finally getting her due: some of Lowe’s pieces have a new home at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Art and Culture.
Lilly Pulitzer owes its success to Jackie Kennedy
Women are still obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer, even after nearly 60 years in business (remember those crazy Target collab lines last year?). The craze started in 1962 when Jackie, Lilly Pulitzer’s schoolmate, was photographed in Life magazine wearing one of Lilly’s dresses. “They took off like zingo. Everybody loved them, and I went into the dress business,” Lilly said, per the brand’s website.
Jackie embraced the pillbox hat because she thought her head was too big
Halston is another brand that Jackie basically launched. According to an excerpt from the biography Simply Halston published in Vanity Fair, designer Roy Halston worked at Bergdorf Goodman, one of Jackie’s favorite stores, and he was the first to design the First Lady’s famous pillbox hat. Jackie wasn’t a fan of hats, because her head was large (especially combined with her bouffant hairdo) and she thought hats weren’t flattering, but she loved Halston's hat. Halston even had the same head size as Jackie, and he would model each hat himself before he sent it to her.
You can still buy her favorite vacation sandals, straight from Capri
Jackie was chic 24/7, and her wardrobe for getaways to Capri, Italy was no exception. She wore headscarves, those giant sunglasses, Capri pants, and elegant sandals made just for her. The Canfora Capri sandal shop still sells handmade replicas of the sandals Jackie picked out, including the $373 chain-link Jacqueline version.
Her Chanel and Givenchy habit got her in trouble
Jackie’s love of Chanel, Givenchy, Dior and French couture became a hot-button issue during her husband’s presidential campaign. According to NPR, she was criticized for her “un-American fashion choices.” President Kennedy wanted Jackie to only wear American designers from then on out, and Vanity Fair has it that Jackie’s sister Lee even took it upon herself to smuggle Givenchy dresses into the White House.
She had her own “Secretary of Style”
To solve Jackie’s political fashion woes, American designer Oleg Cassini became the First Lady’s personal courtier. That earned him the nickname “Secretary of Style” as he designed looks that were copied by women all over the world. Jackie also took fashion advice from none other than legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. “She is an original. You don’t get many, and when you do you should tip your hat to them,” Jackie told People in 1980.
Her infamous pink Chanel suit was not technically made by Chanel
The pink suit that Jackie wore that fateful, tragic day in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 was a “line-for-line copy of a classic cardigan-style Chanel with navy lapels,” according to the New York Times. The suit was sewn by a Park Avenue salon called Chez Ninon, which purchased fabric and materials from Chanel (as mentioned in Coco Chanel biography Chanel, Her Life). That’s one way of getting around the whole “don’t buy European designers” thing.
Jackie’s costume designer Madeline Fontaine made five pink suits for Natalie Portman to wear in the movie, and even consulted with Chanel to find the exact right buttons and pink dye. As for the real suit worn by the First Lady during John F. Kennedy’s assassination, it’s preserved at a National Archives storage facility with instructions from the Kennedy family that it should never be displayed to the public until 2103.
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