Jackie O

Jaqueline Onassis - Trendsetter
Jackie O, socialite, book editor, mother, former president's wife and Greek millionaire's widow, was undeniably a woman of style who, in terms of media attention, rivalled perhaps only Princess Diana. TV, the newsprint media and magazines all adored her, or rather they adored the spike in sales her image on the cover could engineer...plus, you know you've made in a big way when Franklin Mint brings out a porcelain doll in your image.

So what defining feature was it about Jacki O that made her exude dignity and good taste from every pore? Well, the fortuitous circumstances of her birth might have helped.

Jackie (doll obviously!)  Franklin Mint
Born Jaqueline Lee Bouvier in South Hampton, New York in 1929, Jackie was raised amid privilege and an atmosphere of 'high expectations'. The Bouviers were no ordinary American family - the patriarch, "Black Jack Bouvier", was a Wall Street stockbroker and did very well at it. However, Jackie's parents divorced when she was eleven and shortly aftward her mother Janet Norton Lee, married Standard Oil heir  Hugh D. Auchincloss Jr.

Jackie Bouvier and her younger sister,  Caroline Lee, attended the top  private schools, rode their own horses, mixed with the 'right' people and generally lived a life of cultured, extensive comfort - a good start for any girl.

Physically, Jackie was unusual and though perhaps not beautiful in the conventional, poster-girl sense,  she possessed an indefinable elegance.  Reed slim, she wore clothes exceptionally well and her thick dark hair, widespaced eyes and broad smile conveyed an uncommon charm. Most importanly, Jackie O was an individual and had the quiet self-confidence to express herself in her own way. All this was reflected in the clothes she wore, her hairstyles and her manner and movements.

By the 1950's, when Jacki Bouvier was in her twenties, she had come out as a debutante and was moving in illustrious cirlces that included the wealthy and influential; attending soirees and dinner parties and making the most of being young, attractive and rich. On one such occasion in 1952, she met the man who would change the course of her life and transform her into one of the most famous women in the world. That man was, of course John F Kennedy and the two were married in '53 and moved into the White House in 1960.

As First Lady, Jackie's fashion selections were a matter of public scrutiny and in a time of rapid social change and shifting clothes trends, she made a significant mark on a style scene that was already soaked with trendsetters like Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon and the Beatles. The First lady's style was smart and functional but not conventional or stilted. On her arrival at the Whitehouse, she comissioned hot designer Oleg Cassini, (ex boyfriend to Grace Kelly) to create a personalised wardrobe for her and he continued to influence her public fashions until 1963.

Arriving in Dallas
Cassini and Jackie's fashion choices were for clean, uncluttered lines - sleeveless, tailored dresses in beautiful fabrics and colours and pert, short-jacketed suits with three-quarter sleeves, which were teamed with pristine gloves and modern pillbox hats. The striking pink Chanel suit and hat she wore on the day of her husband's death became etched into the US national consciousness as well as inspiring a range of Air Hostess uniforms.

Wisely, Jackie never went over the top with her fashion choices and even in jewellery, she kept it discreet (though she had a large and beautiful collection), often wearing exquisite brooches and her signature triple-stranded pearl necklace.

As a hostess, the President's young wife excelled and she was famous for her dinner parties and social events - her life-long, avid interest in the Arts meant politicians and diplomats could mix freely with poets, writers, photographers, artists and musicians. Of course, Jackie's time at the White House ended all too soon, cut short by the assassination of JFK. Long after, however, she remained a much-watched fashion icon, albeit one that gaurded her privacy and even her measures here did not escape attention. The large dark glasses and trenchcoat she obscured herself behind became a fashion combo icon. Jackie O it seemed, just couldn't help being watchable.