Tribute to the American Camelot
***This piece originally appeared on the blog on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 2013***
As you probably know, I live in Dallas and love my city. You definitely know that Dallas is the city where the beloved President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and today is the anniversary. Most Dallas residents and natives are, of course saddened and embarrassed that this happened and our city leadership does a great job marking this solemn anniversary with reverence as we reflect on the life and legacy of JFK.
What you probably don't know is this - as a girl in school, I was not a fan of history! I was completely uninterested until the parts about royals around the world - particularly in England - and, of course, the stories about the Kennedy family. I wonder why...
Oh come on! Stop playing! You know why! Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, of course!
What a beautiful example of grace and elegance she was! I was not alive during the Camelot years so Mrs. Kennedy Onassis was already older and married to her Greek billionaire when I was a girl. However, all footage of her is absolutely enchanting to me. It was when I was a child and it still is today.
It is a sad day and I cannot stop watching the ton of media footage and I am full of even more information of the Kennedy family than ever before. I am aware that these are facts and figures that I will probably never need but I am fascinated none the less! The most interesting pieces of information I learned this week has to do with the beautiful pink suit, Jacqueline Kennedy was wearing on that fateful day...
The interesting fact about the suit that I learned is that it is locked away in an undisclosed, climate controlled location until the year 2103 - 140 years after the sad day. I kind of feel like it should have been destroyed. My first instinct would have been to burn it but I'm not a historian so I don't fully understand why it was or is important to keep something like that even though I know and love the fact that there are clothes in the Smithsonian worn by Presidents and First Ladies. President Kennedy's suit is also put up and preserved.
Now, have a seat and take a deep, cleansing breath! You guys are fashionistas extraordinaire, so you know and have probably always heard and said that the suit was Chanel. Well, imagine my surprise when the news is on at my desk and I hear a Kennedy historian say, "The suit was not Chanel". WHAT?!?!? CLUTCH THE PEARLS! (My actual tweet that second!) My nosiness and obsession with fashion forced me to dig deeper! Here is the story I believe to be true...
It is an unspoken rule that First Ladies are supposed to wear mostly American designers in an effort to be perceived as patriotic. Even as late as the 90's, First Lady Laura Bush was criticized for her gorgeous Oscar de la Renta gown at the second inauguration. (Really, who criticizes Oscar?) Mrs. Kennedy reportedly got some criticism for using and being a fan of French designers. It makes no sense to me! I would think a First Lady wearing a designer from another country would help foreign relations but again, I'm not a historian!
At any rate, Chez Ninon was a fashion house in New York City and they apparently had an arrangement with the house of Chanel where they could duplicate Chanel pieces and even received materials from Chanel in France. Chez Ninon would then re-create Chanel garments with the fashion house's blessing. I am guessing this was an arrangement made just for Mrs. Kennedy so she could have her cake and eat it, too; and the pink boucle suit was Chanel by way of Chez Ninon. I like to say "Chanel adjacent"!
I hope you're as fascinated by my little history lesson as I am! I hope you took a little time on this bitter sweet anniversary to remember the contributions John F. Kennedy - as well as countless other great Americans - made to our country.