1961 Pink Chanel Suit

Research by Steven L. Brawley

  • PPB publisher Steven Louis Brawley is a historian that has been sourced by esteemed authors and interviewed by journalists from across the globe. Jackie's infamous raspberry pink suit is one topic that Brawley has extensively investigated.
  • Through his research, Brawley has determined that the suit was a real Chanel, not a knock off. He has been provided exclusive access to documents and fabric swatches that authenticate the outfit's true Chanel status. Brawley is working to further document this fascinating story. Stay tuned.
  • Over the years, a story has been perpetuated by Karl Lagerfeld and others that the skirt and jacket ensemble was not a real Chanel. These stories claim the suit was a mere copy by Chez Ninon of New York. Other versions of the same story report the purchase and tailoring for the suit was through special arrangement by Chanel with Chez Ninon using what was called the "line for line" system put in place by Chanel. The deal was allegedly a way for Jackie to buy American. No known authenticated paper trail exists to verify these claims. 
  • Despite all of the conflicting accounts, one thing is for certain, one of the world's most famous pieces of clothing was indeed an authentic Chanel.
  • Brawley has learned that Jackie personally negotiated the design and purchase of the Chanel suit through a long-time friend who served as one of her private European fashion scouts. She and Jackie's sister Lee kept Jackie abreast of the latest fashion trends, alerting her to outfits she may like.
  • Jackie provided specific direction on this suit, requiring Coco Chanel to personally approve of Jackie's changes to the original design.
  • The jacket and skirt (in a a different color) were featured in a September 1961 Life Magazine photo essay on the fall 1961 Chanel collection.
  • The size six bouclé wool outfit was double-breasted, with six gold buttons and four pockets.
  • Color described as raspberry pink, the thick quilted collar, and the trim on the sleeves and the pockets, were dark navy blue. Brawley has seen the original fabric swatches.The vibrant color is amazing.
  • The bouclé wool fabric was woven by Linton Tweeds, one of Chanel's official suppliers.
  • The dark navy blue silk sleeveless blouse was made by another manufacturer, the cost of the Chanel version was very pricey (even for Jackie).
  • Accompanying the suit was a trademark pillbox hat in matching raspberry pink. It is unknown if the hat was by Halston.
  • Jackie completed the look with a dark navy blue handbag matching the quilted collar, with a gold chain handle.
  • Estimated cost of suit in 1961: $800-$1,000.
  • Ensemble was one of President Kennedy's favorites, personally selecting it for the Texas trip - he said Jackie looked "ravishing in it."
  • That fateful day in Dallas, Jackie refused to take off the bloodstained suit, wearing it until she returned to the White House in the early morning hours of Nov. 23.
  • Stored in a box in her mother's attic for a period of time, and then sent to National Archives.
  • Deeded by Caroline Kennedy to the National Archives.
  • Currently in a special climate controlled storage facility at the National Archives in Maryland, along with the President's clothing from Nov. 22.
  • The pillbox hat is missing.

Worn on these dates:

  • November 12 & 14, 1961, Washington D.C.
  • March 26, 1962, London
  • September 26, 1962, Washington D.C.
  • October 15, 1962, Washington D.C.
  • October 24, 1962, Washington D.C.
  • November 22, 1963, Dallas, TX

Artwork copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy).

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.