Saturday, March 18, 2006

Oleg Cassini, Jackie O's Designer is Dead

Famed fashion designer Oleg Cassini, the man with whom is credited for helping Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis become a First Lady fashion icon, died yesterday, March 17. He was 92. He died on Long Island in New York after suffering a stroke on March 11th.

Soon after John F. Kennedy's election as US President, Oleg Cassini persuaded First Lady Jackie O to use him, instead of many designers, as the sole creator of her total look. He may have had an "in" because the former Hollywood costume designer had been friendly with the Kennedy family for years. Still, it wasn't a situation of, "it's not what you know, it's who you know," because Mr. Cassini knew his craft and had an uncanny eye for fashion and individual style.

Yes, of course we all know that Jacqueline Kennedy took Oleg up on his offer. Upon the public announcement of his selection he stated, "We are on the threshold of a new American elegance thanks to Mrs. Kennedy's beauty, naturalness, understatement, exposure and symbolism."

Jacqueline Kennedy, only 31 when her husband won the presidency, she was in peak style during her White House years, from 1961 to 1963. The simple, geometric dresses, pillbox hats and elegant hairstyle was admired and copied by women from 18 to 80.

"In Hollywood, I was used to getting a script and a star, and they'd say, 'Do it,'" Cassini said in a 1995 interview. "Now, with her, it was the same thing. I had to create a persona." And, create a persona he certainly did. Looking back, that almost seems an understatement.

Cassini was born to Russian parents in Paris, according to his Web site. He studied in Florence and apprenticed with designer Jean Patou in Paris. Later he headed to California, where he dressed Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Gene Tierney, whom he later married.

He served in the U.S. Calvary Corps in World War II. Fashion historians credit him with the sheath, the A-line, the little white collar and the military look for women.

His first marriage, to heiress Merry Fahrney, lasted less than two years. He married Tierney in 1941. They had two children but divorced in 1952. He is survived by his wife, Marianne, two daughters, and numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

We love Oleg and have been a fan of his for years. His influence and passion for style and fashion is written in the history books, thanks to Jacqueline Kennedy giving him free reign in developing her look.

After Cassini honed Jackie O's classic look, he developed a line of disco attire for Men that we adore. We've got a few pieces left in stock here at DressThatMan along with some classicly tailored Men's Suits and a casual coat.

Thanks Oleg for your contribution to the fashion world. You did it. You left an indelible mark.

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