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The White House Years
Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
by Hamish Bowles, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, N.Y.
Did the clothes make Jackie Kennedy, or did
Jackie make the clothes?
Decide for yourself: Jacqueline
Kennedy : The White House Years is a stunning catalog of some of Jacqueline
Kennedy's most important dresses as worn during her years as first lady of the
As visually sleek and elegant as Mrs. Kennedy herself, the book offers a
beautiful analysis of the stunning, simple outfits that typified the Jackie
style and brought a breath of sleek modernity to the White House after the
somewhat frumpy fussiness of previous first lady Bess Truman.
Released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's
"emergence" as a style icon, the book presents an eclectic selection
of suits, evening dresses, daywear, and accessories from the John F. Kennedy
Library and Museum collection. Divided into cities where each item was first
worn, the gowns, suits, and dresses are first presented alone in a full-page
Each is then accompanied by various photos of Jackie wearing the item and
detailed design notes, history, and anecdotes behind the outfit.
These photos give a wonderful context to the clothes, and it's clear that
Jackie's carriage and persona injected life into these garments -- which
sometimes appear markedly different from what one might deduce as each item's
"personality" when simply viewing it alone.
For example, a pale cream embroidered silk Givenchy evening gown looks dull and
somewhat dowdy when seen alone, but the accompanying photograph of Jackie
wearing it while cuddling a newborn John Kennedy Jr. transforms the dress into
something feminine and timeless.
Or a very simple, innocently pretty pink shantung evening gown by Guy Douvier
becomes arrestingly sexy when she wears it with nothing but white gloves and a
Palm Beach tan. Contextualizing and interpreting Kennedy's style is an important
part of this book.
Featured are essays on Jackie and her effect on the world of style by Arthur M.
Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy friend Rachel Lambert Mellon, and the book's author and
Vogue editor at large, Hamish Bowles.
JJacqueline Kennedy : The White House Years accompanies an exhibition at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City. --Marisa Lencioni, Amazon.co.uk