By Mike Naughton
This is a little information on Jackie Kennedy's pink Chanel suit, My (Great) Aunt Kate did the finishing alterations and stitching on the sleeves and hems. Aunt Kate was a seamstress of note, fine fingers like delicate pieces of spun glass, she worked for Chez Ninon, a boutique that made clothes for the high and mighty.
Her employer, Miss Sophie, was with the couture section of Bon Wit Teller prior to opening her own shop. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I was brought "downtown" one day to visit the "girls in the workshop"; when we arrived the sewing machines became still and everyone jumped up to meet Aunt Kate who in turned showed me off to the "girls".
The girls called her Kitty. I could not imagine Jackie Kennedy getting a finer reception than Aunt Kate. I remember meeting a gentleman, possible Mr. Anthony, a designer who was very fond of Aunt Kate, but weren't we all.
I know I met Miss Sophie, but I don't know if I met another seamstress who Aunt Kate always referred to as, "Marie, she takes care of her mother and they live in the parish." I was always relieved when I met Marie on many future occasions and Aunt Kate confirmed her membership in Good Shepherd; I would feel sad if she defected to another parish. The girls called her "Kitty."
Note: This article originally appeared on www.pinkpillbox.com in 2009. In 2012, Author Nicole Mary Kelby contacted PPB to assist in her research for her fictional account - The Pink Suit. It is uncertain the exact role Aunt Kate played in the "assembly" of the suit. There is on-going research into the role Chez Ninon played in the creation of Jackie's Chanel suit.
Image: Aunt Kate with her nephew Mike Naughton. Courtesy Mike Naughton.
By Steven L. Brawley, Editor-in-Chief
Next to her pink Chanel designed suit, the black Givenchy outfit Jackie wore to her husband's funeral events is probably her second most famous fashion item. It appears the ensemble included a jacket and dress, two-pieces.
There is strong photographic evidence of her wearing the black Givenchy ensemble (jacket for sure) several times prior to JFK's funeral.These include photos taken at JFK Jr.'s Dec. 1960 christening, the 1961 funeral of Anthony Biddle (U.S. Ambassador to Spain) accompanied by Joe Kennedy Sr., and Eleanor Roosevelt's 1962 funeral.
She bought several Givenchy items prior to becoming First Lady, including a vibrant red jacket. She also chose a striking Givenchy gown for the dinner held for the First Couple at Versailles in Paris in 1961. She would continue to select Givenchy outfits throughout her life.
Several Givenchy sources claim that Jackie rush ordered the Givenchy suit for the funeral, and that it was especially flown in from Paris on short notice. It is said, that at that time, the Givenchy atelier possessed individual patterns sheets for every female member of the Kennedy family - making it easy to produce an outfit quickly.
After some detailed research, it seems highly unlikely a new outfit could have been created and flown to Washington, DC in less than 24 hours (Jackie did not return to White House until 4 am on Sat. Nov. 23 and the funeral activiites began late morning Sun. Nov. 24).
As well, in Oleg Cassini's book "Thousand Days of Magic" he shows a sketch of the black outfit. He does not state he designed it, or provide information on its orgins. He was not hired to design for Jackie until Dec. 1960, and she wore this black outfit as early as Dec. 3, 1960. So the mystery continues somewhat on the exact date the suit was purchased. For now let's say it is a Givenchy ensemble from around 1960.
We certainly know that she wore the suit during the two-day funeral, during a special awards presentation to her secret service agent Clint Hill on Dec. 3, 1963, and then again on Dec. 5, when she left the White House.
Where is the Givenchy funeral suit now? We do not know. A pinkpillbox reader says that a few years back she contacted the Kennedy Library and asked about the suit. She was told at that time they did not have it in their archives. Recently, the library confirmed they also do not have the powder blue coats worn by Caroline and John Jr. in their possession, and that the Kennedy family still has them.
Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy) - Jackie's 1960 Black Givenchy suit
Jackie's Emerald and Pearl Brooch
Composed of emeralds and pearls. Reportedly nicknamed the "Russian Brooch." Jackie had it in her collection prior to becoming First Lady. There is photographic evidence of her wearing the brooch at one of the 1960 Presidential debates. The brooch may have been a gift from JFK or the Kennedy family (with the emeralds highlighting the Kennedy's Irish heritage).
Notes: Not included in the Sotheby's 1996 Onassis Auction, but reproduced by Danbury Mint for sale.
Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)
In Honor of Caroline's Birth
These stunning earrings were a gift from then-Senator Kennedy to Jackie in 1957 as a gift in the honor of the birth of their first child, Caroline. Purchased from Van Cleef and Arpels in New York, JFK wanted them to be as versatile as possible, so he had the cascade section made to be easily removed so that Jackie could wear the stud portion alone for a more casual look. Jackie wore the earrings throughout the Kennedy Presidency at state functions. Caroline inherited these earrings that were given to commemorate her birth and wears them to very special occasions.
Notes: Not included in the Sotheby's 1996 Onassis Auction, but reproduced by Camrose & Kross for sale.
Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)