Is this the most famous dress of all time?
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr. This is a day of remembrance for a great man and arguably one of the best presidents that ever lived. But it is also a day when we should remember Jackie Kennedy who died in 1994 and what she went through.
One of the main images that comes to mind when we think back to that tragic day is Jackie and that pink suit. Covered in her husband’s blood, she wouldn’t clean it off the whole day. “I want them to see what they have done to Jack,” she snapped. The dress represented the shattering of Camelot and a more innocent Jackie Kennedy. That image of the dress and that moment will forever be ingrained in our minds. I’d even dare ask, is that pink suit the most famous dress of all time?
Even more so than Marilyn Monroe in the wind blown white dress or Audrey Hepburn in that fabulous LBD in front of Tiffany’s, Jackie’s pink suit is on a different level. This wasn’t a movie set. This was a real horrific moment that would change the entire country and this incredible woman who was, for all intents and purposes, American royalty.
First of all, let’s get our facts straight. Though many people say it was Jackie’s pink Chanel suit, they would be wrong. Back then, as now, it was always considered de rigueur for the First Lady to champion national brands and businesses. Therefore, rather than purchase a suit direct from Chanel, the Parisian ateliers provided Jackie with all the components, which were then used by an American company to create Jackies suit.
It was a favorite of the First Lady’s with that little pill box hat (which was lost in the madness of the day). She had worn it six times before that and her husband said she looked “smashing” in it. And that she did.
But that suit is more than a piece of clothing. It is a piece of history. Jessica Gold Newman, Co-Founder and CEO of Dobbin, a new e-commerce womenswear business, told me, “To me, the suit represents the concurrent hope and sadness of that day and era (although I did not grow up at that time). The happy pink color evoked the Camelot couple’s optimism and youth, and yet the suit was later entirely stained by blood. I so admire that Mrs. Kennedy refused to take the suit off that day, and said, “Let them see what they’ve done”. Her courage and reserve that day are beyond comprehension. I also like the fact that she’d worn the suit many times in the past; celebrities and politicians weren’t expected to turn out in a new look every time they made a public appearance.There are many iconic fashions in American history, and Jackie’s Chez Ninon suit is one of the most, if not the most, important ensembles of all time.”
Eventually Jackie did take it off and it was sent to The National Archives by Jackie’s mother around 1964. According to CNN, the suit was never cleaned. In 2003 (nine years after her death) Caroline Kennedy, the heir, gave the suit as a gift to the people of the United States with one major clause: It would not be seen by the public until 2103 (with permission from the Kennedy family.) Experts believe the obsessive fascination surrounding the assassination and the Kennedy themselves would lead to hysteria. This ban leaves us even more intrigued and fascinated by the suit and the woman behind it.