Remembering Jackie Kennedy (and her Chanel suit)

Jackie Kennedy's Chanel suit

Fashion has made its mark on our country, on our politics. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. His wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, wore a double-breasted strawberry pink and navy trim collared Chanel wool suit. Coco Chanel originally created the suit for her 1961 Fall Collection, however Chanel herself did not make Jackie’s version, it was a reproduction by New York designer Chez Ninon.

After her husband was killed, Jackie remained wearing the bloodstained suit during the swearing-in of Lyndon B. Johnson, and on the flight back to Washington D.C. She only paused to wash the blood off of her face. The article of clothing has become one of the most important symbols in American history.

 In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Chanel suit was a powerful image of bourgeois American chic. It was the classy choice, depicting a truly independent woman who is at once professional and beautiful.

The figure of Jackie Kennedy wearing such a strong, original garment, was significant in itself. But the picture of such an elegant, collected woman suddenly thrust into a tragedy, shocked America. It was not just the caked blood on the pink suit, it was that the two most important figures in the country were lost in different ways.

Jackie’s Chanel suit was never washed, and has been preserved to be on display as a continuing memory of John F. Kennedy, and female empowerment in such a decade and on such a tragic day.

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