If I had to name someone who cemented their title as a Style Icon back in the 90’s, it would be Princess Diana. But apart from the royal, there are two other almost-royals who are strong contenders for the same. Jackie Kennedy, and her daughter-in-law, Calvin Klein publicist, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.
While Lady Di shed the princess-y glamour for outfits that meant serious business, Jackie O was known for her first lady glam and pillbox hats. In fact, her bloody Pink Chanel suit also has a separate wiki page of it’s own. And despite the short-lived life and tragic death of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, she still is an icon 20 years later.
Bessette was born in White Plains, New York, the youngest child of William J. Bessette, a cabinet maker, and Ann Messina, an academic administrator in the New York City public school system. She had two older sisters, twins Lauren and Lisa.
The future Kennedy had a pretty social life in high school, with her classmates fondly remembering her as someone who “loved to laugh – hers was an unforgettable, contagious, belly laugh.” Her charm and outgoing nature furthermore landed her a job at Calvin Klein. She started off as a sales assistant and was then moved to handle Klein’s high-profile clients.
Bessette met the famous Kennedy boy when he was a serial dater. And something clicked. The two became serious pretty quick. RoseMarie Terenzio, JFK Jr’s personal assistant until his death, speaks about Carolyn, saying, “Carolyn wasn’t John’s shadow; she was his equal.” But the fame that JFK Jr grew up accustomed to, was a bitter pill that Bessette couldn’t keep down.
Forward to 20 years on, we see the BRF and particularly, HRH the Duchess of Sussex undergoing similar vile treatment with the press. And if you’ve seen the latest documentary, she speaks about how the constant limelight is toxic. Prince Harry lost his mother back in 1997, due to the press chasing his mother in the ill-fated Parisian tunnel. (Markle also looks up to Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy for style inspiration.)
Bessette and Kennedy tied the knot in a secret ceremony, and a few years later, the tragically died in a plane crash off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard. Despite the accident, Bessette-Kennedy had left a humongous fashion legacy behind, one which is insanely popular to this day.
CAROLYN BESSETTE-KENNEDY STYLE
The blonde hair. The loose shirts and monochromatic elegance has been the Bessette trademark for a while. Her wedding dress is also the genius behind HRH, the Duchess of Sussex’s reception gown. The CBK style are “the clean lines, beige tailoring and tortoiseshell accessories.”
What reflected as effortless ‘tossed together chic’ is actually something Carolyn achieved through sheer discipline, elevated by her striking beauty. Let’s be honest – sophistication for Bessette-Kennedy is mediocrity for us.
One could even call her style as very ‘girl-next-door’, but it oozed elegance in all angles. Maybe it’s something you’re born with. Maybe you’ve got to have an eye for these things. Carolyn’s fashion is so iconic, that you’ll find numerous Instagram pages paying ode to the late Kennedy.