How Fashion Filtered Down, 1961

I thought I was finished with Cassini and Kennedy for a while, but a chance find in an antique store reminded me of this marvelous dress that Oleg designed for Jackie to wear to the Inauguration Gala in 1961.  Focus on the cockade at Jackie’s waist.  According to Hamish Bowles in Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years:

It was an element that pointed to Jacqueline Kennedy’s pride in her French Bouvier ancestry, her profound love of history, and her particular affinity with the eighteenth century.

I’m sure that to most people , it was merely a pretty ornament.  It was very interesting to find a dress that so clearly shows how elements of Mrs. Kennedy’s wardrobe were being adapted for the mass market.

I apologize for the truly terrible photos, but I’m sure you can see what I’m referring to.  Not only does this simple little black dress have the cockade, it is in the very same position as in Mrs. Kennedy’s dress.  But note also the overblouse and the two inverted pleats at the waist.  There were no labels in the dress, but it was commercially made.  One reads all the time about how influential Mrs. Kennedy was in matters of fashion, so it was interesting to see a dress that so clearly shows the influence of one particular dress.

This is the week that I normally post Vintage Miscellany, but due to other, more pressing matters, I’ve not been as much of an internet reader as usual.  Posting here may be a bit sporadic for a  while before I return to my regular schedule.


Filed under Designers, Vintage Clothing

15 responses to “How Fashion Filtered Down, 1961

  1. What a neat find, and how fab that it coincided with your Jackie posts! Hope that what is keeping you from posting turns out OK and that you’re able to get back to doing what you like to do as soon as you can.


  2. Good eye. Lizzie! I love when I’m able to see the predecessor for some no-name/label dress or item. It happens very rarely, but very exciting when it does.

    Hope all is well with you!


  3. Thanks much for your example of what a cockade is. According to Webster they are usually used on hats…(had to look it up). I will add it to my fashion vocabulary along with a snood, a ja-bow and now a cockade.

    I appreciate the absolutely lovely picture of Jackie. Thank you.

    P.S. What a lucky find the imitation of her gown was.


  4. seaside

    Great post. The cockade was a most fitting and perfect touch to the dress Jackie wore. I think while it draws the eye, it also complements the whole design. I love that you found a similar manufactured dress. Thank you.


  5. The dress I’ve had on my list to make myself for years (but in a different color) is the linen Cassini Easter dress on page 173 of that book. It has a simple bias strip shaped into a “quatrefoil” with a button center and the book mentions that it is “perhaps an abstraction of a cockade”. It’s such a simple decoration but it’s so pretty!


  6. This is absolutely fascinating! We always discuss the influence between fellow fashion lovers, but to see such a direct and prime example is rather exciting!



  7. Caryn

    This lovely example of Jackie’s simple elegance is so refreshing. It proves that an elegant, well-tailored piece allows the beauty of a woman to glow so that you notice her, not the dress.

    I have two examples of fashion filtering down so that it is accessible to the everyday woman:

    1.) In my attic is a small box of delicately lined linen sheath dresses in the Jackie style. They were handmade by my mother and grandmother. (All four sisters emulated her chic style. No cockades, though.)

    2.) My cousin dreamed of being a designer all of her life. Her first job in the 1980s was to zip all over Europe the minute the couture designs appeared and sketch them. Her company then translated those designs into off-the-rack for the average shopper.


  8. Fashion Witness

    What a find! Whenever I visit a museum show of couture, I always wish the exhibit included some pictures of how the fashions were adapted and copied for “Main Street.” About cockades: Cockades formed around a covered button can be seen on French dresses from the 1600s — Cyrano de Bergerac era — and were very popular in ”bleu, blanc et rouge” during the French Revolution of 1789. If you like the look, author Candace Kling is an expert on making ribbon trims like this, and a search for images under her name can be pretty inspiring! Thank you for posting this found dress — and I hope things are going well for you.


  9. Well, I’ve decided that there will be a cockade in my future sewing – maybe even in 2013! Thanks for this great post.


  10. ourdailydress

    How interesting – I would have thought it was just a pretty decoration before hearing this back story. A great example of how fashion about more than looking good, but instead can reflect so much more.


  11. Great find! It’s things like this that make the study of historical fashion fun. (take care)


  12. Christina

    To add to the comments, a cockade originated as an easily recognisable decoration usually attached to hats – but not always – worn by supporters, male or female of an army, political party or a popular cause. It appears in that form in the C17th. It would be fun to think Jacqueline Kennedy was alluding to the French Revolution when cockades were prevalent.


  13. A truly beautiful dress. I wish we could find things like this in the UK.


  14. very good job ! the originality is very cool ! xoxo


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