CHANNELING JACKIE: As the latest actress to portray Jacqueline Kennedy in a film, Natalie Portman has been making the rounds talking about the former first lady’s style. Executives at Oleg Cassini, the label that was once a favorite of Kennedy’s, helped to provide insight to researchers for the yet-to-be-released drama “Jackie.” Directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Noah Oppenheim, the feature focuses on her life after the president’s assassination.
Peggy Nestor, Oleg Cassini vice president and corporate creative director, provided photographs of Kennedy and the late designer’s 1995 book “A Thousand Days of Magic: Dressing Jacqueline Kennedy for the White House.” Nestor’s sister Marianne, the company’s president, was the designer’s wife.
Nestor said the pivotal conversation for Cassini and Kennedy occurred when he paid her a hospital visit while she was recovering from the birth of her son John Jr. “Oleg told Jackie he didn’t want the job unless he was the only one. She said, ‘You’re the one,'” Nestor said. “And he was. She wore clothes that were made in America by an American designer who happened to have been born in Paris. And they spoke French together.”
Nestor pointed to the ivory strapless dress double-faced silk satin twill evening gown with cocade trim that Kennedy wore to her husband’s inaugural ball as an example of how Cassini dressed her as “sort of an European princess for the American public.” He encouraged her to be the intellect she was and to showcase her interest in the arts and culture, rather than dressing down a bit as the senator’s wife, Nestor said. The cocade embellishment was a hint of Kennedy being a winning equestrian, as was Cassini. “Jackie called it her white T-shirt dress,” Nestor said. “For her to step out wearing what almost looked like a European princess’ wedding dress for a Frank Sinatra-organized gala was extremely bold.”
Admirers of Kennedy’s classic style will soon have another way to mirror her look. Oleg Cassini will launch a bridemaids’ collection at David’s Bridal on Feb. 14. The 10-piece line features chiffon, embroidered, jersey and long mesh styles with an assortment of necklines including off-the-shoulder and strapless styles. The new styles feature boning, interlining, illusion and other features that can also be found in Oleg Cassini wedding dresses that are sold via the 300-plus David’s Bridal stores and on its website. The $200 bridesmaid dresses are geared for wedding parties, but they are offered in an array of colors and can easily be worn for other occasions, Nestor said. With most brides having between five to 10 bridesmaids, the line extension is expected to increase the company’s sales.
To coincide with the Valentine’s Day retail launch, Rizzoli will publish a revised and updated collector’s edition of “The Wedding Dress.” The Milton Greene cover image of Grace Kelly wearing a pale rose Oleg Cassini dress is faintly reminiscent of the new bridesmaid collection. For fall 2017, Rizzoli will also release two other titles about the designer — “Stars in Cassini” and “Oleg Cassini: Icon of Style.”
Nestor recently tried to reconnect with another former comrade of Cassini’s: Donald Trump. She wrote a letter to the Republican presidential candidate suggesting he put a mall in the wall he has vowed to build on the U.S. border with Mexico. The idea dawned on her while flying from Sedona for an Oleg Cassini photo shoot and seeing “the vast amount of land that no one is looking for for any reason. I told him, ‘If you’re making a wall in Mexico, you could make a mall in the middle to encourage trade between both countries. There is a lot of good denim and other goods coming from Mexico,” Nestor said. “Mexico is great. We have had wonderful projects there.”
Trump has yet to respond, but Nestor remains encouraged. “The more you develop positive things, the more the negative goes out the window.”