Fashion

They said/We said: Oh the scandal! Jackie O’s famous bloody Chanel suit was in fact not…Chanel!

3 comments

Photography via Fashionista

There are a few outfits that have had a lasting impact on society. Kate Middleton’s blue Issa engagement dress, for example. Marilyn Monroe’s white dress in The Seven Year Itch. Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime show costume. Okay, maybe not that last one.

Amongst that iconic list, the pink bouclé suit Jackie Kennedy wore the day her husband, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated (she famously refused to take off the bloodstained jacket), stands out. In fact, it was so iconic that Carine Roitfeld told Tim Blanks it was the first Chanel piece she recognized: “The first Chanel jacket that I saw–that I knew was Chanel–was on TV. It was on Mrs. Kennedy–the pink one.”

Sorry, Carine, but it looks like you “knew” wrong. Karl Lagerfeld quickly countered, saying it was a line-by-line fake. Wait, Jackie Kennedy wore fake Chanel?!

Well… not exactly. While the Kaiser seems to think Oleg Cassini made the line-by-line copy, consensus is it was actually tailored at the Chez Ninon dress shop in New York. Apparently, the store had received the OK from Chanel to copy the dress and used Chanel fabrics, buttons and patterns to make it.

It appears Kennedy wore the “knockoff” (though with Chanel’s approval, it probably can’t be classified as one) suit to show patriotism and support American clothiers. And considering all the fuss that was made when Michelle Obama wore Alexander McQueen (not American) to the Chinese State Dinner, we think we can understand why she went in that direction.

Either way, the iconic suit will be locked away in a vault in Maryland until 2103. Chanel or not, this is one piece of fashion history we’d love to have seen.

THEY SAID:

Fashionista: “If the suit was made with Chanel fabrics, is it really a knock off? Regardless, thank you Mr. Lagerfeld, for prompting us to explore this fascinating little bit of history.” [Fashionista]

The Gloss: “Basically, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, sometimes it’s just not a duck.” [The Gloss]

WE SAID:

Bernadette Morra, editor-in-chief: “Although Jacqueline Kennedy loved French designers, she knew that wearing American would be the politically correct thing to do as First Lady. So she craftily found a way to have the best of both worlds by having French designs copied in America. The fact that, according to Justine Picardi, Chanel supplied the fabric, trim and buttons for the ensemble, to call the suit a fake doesn’t seem accurate. Perhaps ‘authorized copy’ would be more appropriate. But then who am I to question Karl Lagerfeld?”

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  • Carol Hermann

    One of the main sources of income for Paris couture houses was selling their custom-made designs not only made in their own Paris’ workshops but also selling the rights of making a model to houses abroad. Because is was custom-made clients have to fit and not every woman was able to come to Paris to fit the clothes several times. Copying haute couture models was in de fifties and sixties not allowed by the designers because of lack of income. The couture houses provided patron, fabrics (even labels!) to the buyers. Embroidery was done by the embroidery houses in Paris. Parts of the dress were sent by post.
    Anyway the pink ‘Dallas’ suit was a Chanel original, not made in the Chanel aterliers in Paris but made (sur mesure) in the workshops of Chez Ninon. Jackies dark blue handbag worn with the suit was also a Chanel original. I am convinced that in the archives of Chanel you can find documents that this model (originally in mauve when is was shown to the buyers and press) was sold to Chez Ninon.

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