Jackie answered with the famous comeback that to spend that much, "I would have to wear sable underwear." Yet in no time, Pat Nixon was telling reporters how she bought American designers and that she got them straight off the rack. Jack Kennedy was also courting the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union, whose powerful president, David Dubinsky, was cautioning J.F.K. that his wife had to buy American. Jackie could see what the press would make her into. She wrote in despair to a friend: "I refuse to be the Marie-Antoinette...of the 1960s."
Eventually she found her way to Oleg Cassini, a French-born Russian turned naturalized American and a onetime Hollywood costume designer. Cassini gave her Americanized versions of French designs, clean lined, in the bright, solid colors she preferred, but with oversize buttons and coat pockets that his Hollywood experience told him would stand out in photographs. She also patronized American clothiers who made licensed copies of French fashions. The red wool dress she wore for her television tour of the White House in 1962 was a line-for-line replica of a Marc Bohan dress for Dior. All the while, she continued to buy the occasional real thing from France. Even the pink suit she wore on the final day in Dallas, which is not in the show, was by Chanel.
Cassini, now 88, has complained that the Met show makes it appear that he slavishly copied French originals or took explicit directions from his famous client. But Jackie was plainly nobody's mannequin. She knew what she wanted, and she didn't hesitate to tell Cassini. In collaboration with dressmakers at Bergdorf Goodman, the New York City department store, she even designed her Inaugural ball gown. She had her snarky side too. "I imagine you will want to put some of my dresses in your collection," she once wrote to Cassini. "But I want all mine to be originals and no fat little women hopping around in the same dress." Her strict attention to what she wore doesn't really accord with her occasional insistence that she had "no desire to influence fashions--that is at the bottom of any list." Jackie got a good deal of what she wanted in life. But her wish to be irrelevant in the matter of style? It never happened. She never meant it to.
Oleg Cassini is considered one of the most prestigious designers in the world. A winner of many fashion and design awards, he is recognized both for his design philosophy and his ideas on living today.
Cassini emerged on the american fashion scene in Hollywood, dressing countless movie stars, including Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, and Gene Tierney, whom he later married. With his designs for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, he garnered admiration and even awe for American fashion design. Since then, his passions for discipline as far afield as sports and Native American culture have fueled his work with freshness and imagination.
Born a count in paris to Count and Countess Cassini, a family with ancestry that dates back to the First Crusade, his grandfather was the Russian Ambassador to the United States. Cassini studied in Florence, apprenticed for Patou in Paris, then opened his own boutique in Rome. Later, Cassini headed for the glamour of Hollywood, he worked for all the major film studios and dressed their stars. After serving in the U.S. Cavalry Corps during World War II, he returned to New York to open his own fashion house on Seventh Avenue. His reputation developed as a result of his genius for original, spontaneous design.
Fashion historians credit Cassini with numerous design accomplishments - the sheath, the A-line, the little white collar dress, the knit and the military look for women. With his designs for Jacqueline Kennedy, he achieved international acclaim and brought worldwide attention with innovations impossible to ignore. Cassini revitalized men's fashions by bringing color to shirts that had only been white. By putting his name and his magic touch on everything from fashion to fragrance, Cassini has given million of Americans a little bit of aristocracy to call their own.
Cassini is the prototype for the fit, trim and athletic elder statesman of competitive sports. He is a 10 handicap golfer, an avid runner, top ranked celebrity tennis player, skier and an accomplished equestrian.
Oleg Cassini divides his time between his country estate in New York and his 17th century town house in Manhattan. He doesn't just design fashion ... He lives it!
When it came time for Jacqueline Kennedy, the young and lovely new First Lady, to choose her personal couturier, she knew it had to be Oleg Cassini. Their joint collaboration during the Kennedy Administration produced a fashion pinnacle never repeated.
From the beginning Cassini had a concept. "What I was proposing was something much more elaborate than any single sketch. I was proposing a new look, a new concept, my interpretation of how Jacqueline Kennedy should appear in her role as First Lady. I had not merely selected from my current collection, I had created a concept for her. I talked to her like a movie star, and told her that she needed a story, a scenario as First Lady."
"I want you to be the most elegant woman in the world. I think that you should start from scratch with a look . . . A look that will set trends and not follow them."
Mrs. Kennedy agreed and gave a press release naming Oleg Cassini her official designer. The collaboration was an instant hit. Mrs. Kennedy's fawn wool coat, sable collar and muff with matching hat, was a standout amid the dark crowd of ladies in their bulky fur coats. Her preinaugural gala gown was cut in the cleanest of lines, but with the most sumptuous of fabrics, an oppulent Swiss double satin. The only adornment being a military cockade at the waist.
Mr. Cassini dressed the First Lady of the United States in gowns that represented the style, youthfulness and sophistication of one of the most dashing couples to grace the White House. The first lady introduced Cassini designed gowns that featured sleeveless silhouettes, one shouldered drapes and strapless columns. On one occasion Cassini had to talk the President into agreeing on a one shouldered gown. "Mr. President," He said. "From the dawn of antiquity, the queen or high priestess has always set the style. That is her role in the society, to be a little advanced and thus admired by her people. You know how valuable Mrs. Kennedy has been to you in that regard . . . In this particular case, I am proposing nothing outrageous or undignified; indeed, the look is more than three thousand years old. The ancient Egyptians would have considered this dress rather conservative!"
The President laughed and shook his head. "Okay, Oleg , you win."
After this breakthrough, strapless and one shouldered gowns became popular looks for Jackie, who had such beautiful shoulders and could wear them so well.
Together, Oleg Cassini and Jacqueline Kennedy created a thousand days of fashion magic in American History.
book to find: http://www.campusi.com/isbn_0847819000.htm
princess wearing dress: http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2004/2/emw107741.htm