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Onassis: First Lady of Fashion With PM-Onassis, Bjt

May 21, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Pillbox hats, bouffant hair, black-framed sunglasses and sleeveless suit dresses.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis made them famous.

″She did not want to appear to be madly obsessed by fashion,″ Oleg Cassini, the first lady’s official fashion designer during the Kennedy administration, said Friday. ″She did not want to appear to be the darling of the fashion world.″

Nevertheless, the fashion world made her its darling. And she, in turn, made fashion fashionable, becoming the first First Lady to select an official couturier.

The pillbox hat, designed by Halston, made its debut on Inauguration Day in 1961. When it almost blew away in a gust of wind, she shoved it back on, denting it.

The pillbox hat then had a dent designed into it.

That hat became part of the nation’s memory of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, as the first lady leaned over the dying president in a blood- spattered pink Chanel suit with navy piping.

For a Life magazine cover, Mrs. Onassis wore a leopard hat and coat that was copied so much, Halston said she ″put that animal on the endangered species list.″

A-line designs, simple and sophisticated, became the Jackie Look.

The Lane Bryant chain marketed ″First Lady Fashions,″ featuring strapless evening dresses, Pucci-print pants, jodhpurs and sunglasses. Store mannequins everywhere sported bouffant hairdos.

She even turned fashion into a tool of diplomacy.

She flattered the French by wearing Givenchy designs during a presidential trip to Versailles, and wore mantillas and bolero hats on a trip to Spain.

After she left the White House, Mrs. Onassis retained her smart style with a toned-down air, changing the course of daily fashion.

″She made the trench coat, pants and sunglasses her daily look,″ said Halston, who died in 1990. ″It told everyone there’s no need to dress up for day. That’s exactly what happened.″

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