Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: An Enduring Legacy
By: Beverly Abellanosa
When one hears the name Jackie Kennedy, an image of a pink Chanel suit paired with a matching pillbox hat immediately enters the mind. The former First Lady has left a lasting impact on society and the fashion community that can be traced from her husband’s presidency and followed up to Milan Fashion Week 2018, in which American designer and creative director of Moschino, Jeremy Scott released a collection of 64 looks inspired by the former First Lady. However, this is only a mere example of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ impact on society.
Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis is hailed as one of the most admired people of the 20th century and one of the most influential First Ladies. She was featured a record-breaking 27 times on the annual Gallup list of the top 10 most admired people of the second half of the 20th century. Jacqueline’s popularity has continued on to recent years. In 2011, she was ranked fifth in a list of the most influential First Ladies of the 20th century due to her profound impact on American society.
Nevertheless, Kennedy Onassis is best known for her iconic wardrobe and the trends she set. In 1965, Kennedy Onassis was named to the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame. 47 years later, Time magazine listed Kennedy Onassis on its list of “All-Time 100 Fashion Icons” and in 2016, Forbes included her on the list of 10 Fashion Icons and the Trends They Made Famous.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis became a global fashion icon during her husband’s presidency. After the 1960 election, she commissioned family friend Oleg Cassini, a French-born American fashion designer, to construct an entire original wardrobe for her tenure as First Lady. It was at this time that the “Jackie” look was established. The look consisted of clean-cut suits with a skirt hem down to the middle of the knee, three-quarter sleeves on notch-collar jackets, sleeveless A-line dresses, above the elbow gloves, low heel pumps, and her signature pillbox hats. This was the very same look emulated in different variations at Moschino’s Fall/Winter 2018 show.
However, after her tenure as First Lady, Kennedy Onassis underwent a change in her style. She ditched the clean-cut suits and pillbox hats for wide-leg pantsuits, large lapel jackets, gypsy skies, silk Hermes headscarves and large oversized sunglasses. She later went on to set a new trend of wearing white jeans white a black turtleneck pulled over the hips instead of tucked in.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis continues to live on not only in fashion but through popular culture as well. Throughout the years, Kennedy Onassis and the Kennedy family have continued to dominate American culture through documentaries, mini-series, and movies. In 2016, Natalie Portman portrayed Kennedy Onassis in the film Jackie, which was set during the JFK presidency and the aftermath of his assassination.
Although Jackie Kennedy is most known for her iconic fashion, she also contributed greatly to the expansion of arts in the United States. Several wards, buildings, and monuments have been dedicated to her in honor of her lasting humanitarian efforts. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ influence on society will continue to last for decades to come.