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    Jacqueline Kennedy: Pink & Blue Oleg Cassini Ensemble Produced at the Time of the Dallas Trip. For those of us old enough to remember, the public had a fascination with First Lady Jackie Kennedy. She was a breath of fresh air that contrasted sharply from her predecessors, a rather dowdy group of matrons. She set the tone for fashion which included supervising refurbishing of the White House. She also traveled widely, charming heads-of-state, even the staid Russian Premier Khrushchev.

    Jackie first met Oleg Cassini in 1953 at the El Morocco night club in New York City. Oleg was a jet-setter before his time. He worked in the 1940s as a costume designer in Hollywood. He married Gene Tierney, divorcing in 1952, and went steady with Grace Kelly. After JFK's election in 1960, he wrote to the First Lady-elect offering his services as her exclusive dress designer, without pay. The offer was accepted, supposedly with the blessing of Kennedy family patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Although Jackie was enamored with French designers such as Chanel, it was decided that she restrict her purchases to American retailers. She also made it clear to Oleg that the dresses he provided her with be unique creations, not copied for sale to the general public. The last thing Jackie wanted to see was some frumpy lady wearing the same dress she had.

    As is well-documented, Jackie had certain preferences - the color pink being one of them. She also liked 3/4 sleeves. The iconic outfit she wore on that fateful day in Dallas, now in the National Archives, was a favorite which she wore on several occasions. It was based on a Chanel design, from the Haute Couture Fall/Winter Collection. The prohibition against buying clothes outside of the United States was circumvented when Jackie ordered the outfit from Chez Ninon in New York City, who followed a "line-for-line"production technique. Jackie took a active role in organizing her clothing and accessories for the various trips she took. For the Dallas trip, her notes specified a "pink and navy Chanel suit" to be worn on November 22nd.

    This lot includes an ensemble made by Oleg Cassini, very similar to the one from Dallas. Fittings took place at the White House, but the outfit was not finished in time and not shipped. After the assassination, it remained in New York and was retained by the fitter, Irene Auerbach, at the end of the season. It includes: 1) a blue-silk button-down blouse/vest. 2) a pink & blue wool jacket with 3/4 sleeves and pink lining, 23" tall with no pockets. 3) a pink & blue wool five-button overcoat, 3/4 sleeves, blue collar & lining, 43" tall with two shallow pockets. 4) a pink & blue wool skirt with attached/integral yellow silk bodice, pink lining, 41" tall with no pockets. As one would expect from a custom order of this type, there are no labels indicating the maker or size.

    A comparison with photos of the Dallas outfit shows many similarities, both in the material, color, blouse and collar. We have not seen any other White House clothing worn by the First Lady offered for auction. That, along with its connection with the Dallas outfit, make it particularly desirable from an historical point-of-view. The consignor was a friend and neighbor of Oleg's fitter. They lived one block apart on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and frequently socialized. Knowing the consignor's interest in the outfit, Ms. Auerbach gave it to him when she was downsizing.

    We include a two-page Letter of Provenance. One is completed in the hand of the consignor and the other in the hand of Ms. Auerbach. Both were signed by Ms. Auerbach and notarized on August 10, 2009. One letter reads, in part: "I, Irene Auerbach, did all of the fittings on Mrs. Kennedy in the Whitehouse. As a matter of fact... during the ensemble fittings, the President came into the room and commented about the 'outfit' color. I purchased the coat at the end of the 'season'... I was Oleg Cassini's assistant when he was Mrs. Kennedy's exclusive designer." The other letter which relates to the coat alone, written by the consignor after having received the outfit, states, in part: "Mrs. Kennedy had an agreement with Oleg Cassini regarding his exclusive designs for her; he could after a time reproduce the design but not use the same fabric. The mill could only weave a limited yardage per design." We include two reference books: "Jackie and Cassini" and "A Thousand Days of Magic".

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2020
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,161

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