Jackie Kennedy Once Said Press About Her Fashion Got "Vulgarly Out-of-Hand"
Her letters to Oleg Cassini were savage.
Thanks to a new auction, we're all getting a peek into the private world of Jackie Kennedy and her relationship with fashion and designer Oleg Cassini. WWD reports that Cassini's estate, Oyster Bay, is headed to the auction block, which is how private letters between the former first lady and the designer have entered the public eye. In those notes, which are reported to be the biggest draw for the auction, Kennedy doesn't hold anything back, saying that the fashion press was vulgar and that she wanted one-of-a-kind pieces designed just for her.
The Kennedy letters are part of a larger collection that includes a note written by Grace Kelly (pre-princess) and Cassini dresses. The estate also includes "photographs, tear sheets, notes, and instructions," and even drawings by Kennedy, all of which show that she was aware of her influence in the world of fashion and how people, the press included, saw her.
"One reason I am so happy to be working with you is that I have some control over my fashion press, which has gotten so vulgarly out-of-hand. You realize that I know that I am so much more of fashion interest than other First Ladies," Kennedy wrote in one letter.
Other correspondences include notes saying that she loved and adored Givenchy, but knew that she'd get criticized for wearing him.
"Givenchy is where I have always gone — It would be SO easy if I could get everything from him, but I can't & if Jack were elected I’d never expose myself to that charge," she wrote. "I don't mean that I just want you to slavishly copy Givenchy for me — it's just to give you a steer on the sort of thing I like ... I know exactly what I want if I go to an Inauguration Ball that's no problem."
She also wasn't afraid of challenging the designer, telling him in all-caps, "ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE UP TO IT OLEG?" and even told him that she demanded everything she wore to be made just for her. Nothing could be replicated for the public, so everything she wore — specific fabrics and colors included — were hers and hers alone.
"I want all of mine to be original and no fat little women hopping around in the same dress," she added.
Through all of that, however, she didn't want her fashion to overshadow her husband's presidency. She knew what she was doing, adding that she didn't want to be seen as a "Marie Antoinette or Josephine of the 1960s."
The estate auction includes a coat of armor, vintage cars, furniture, and artwork. The letters are estimated to go for at least $10,000. It all goes up on June 22 to 24, but plenty of people are heading to Long Island to check it all out now.