Did the clothes make Jackie, 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 United States. 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 color photo. 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. Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years accompanies an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. --Marisa Lencioni, Amazon.co.uk
From Library Journal
Bowles's book accompanies a summer 2001 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition of the same name, curated by Bowles, European editor at large of Vogue. The focus here is Jackie's famous and much emulated wardrobe. Each gown, suit, and accessory has an informational entry that includes a photograph of Jackie wearing the item. The selections highlight the first lady's savvy and sensitivity to the symbolic nature of dress. At a 1962 White House dinner for 49 Nobel Laureates, she looked like a "modern-day muse" in a "liquid, columnar dress suggestive of ancient statuary." A red wool twill Pierre Cardin suit, worn in Canada for her international debut as first lady, was "perceived as a stylish and calculated compliment to the uniforms of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police." The book provides a wonderful context for the images (many never before seen) while giving readers an enjoyable look at the woman who was arguably our most elegant first lady. Essays by White House gardener and friend Rachel Mellon, historian Arthur Schlesinger, and the author capture Mrs. Kennedy's personality. Highly recommended for all libraries with an interest in Jacqueline Kennedy.- Jennifer Mayer, Univ. of Wyoming Libs., Laramie
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.