Jackie Kennedy Oleg Cassini

April 20, 2012 by staff 

Jackie Kennedy Oleg Cassini, Oleg Cassini, 92, the dapper descendant of Russian aristocrats who married a movie star, designed clothes for a first lady and was the first to license his name to products from perfume to luggage, died March 17 at a hospital on New York’s Long Island. His third wife, Marianne, said the designer suffered a broken blood vessel in his head.

Mr. Cassini was best known as Jacqueline Kennedy’s couturier, creating 300 elegant outfits from simple A-line dresses to her iconic pillbox hats. Her Inauguration Day outfit, a pillbox hat and a fawn-colored wool coat with a sable collar over a matching wool dress, dazzled women around the globe, who rushed to find copies.

He reveled in the attention and bypassed the New York runway shows to take his creations directly to department stores. High-fashion mavens were aghast when he introduced colorful shirts for men and the short-lived Nehru jacket to U.S. and European audiences, but it was typical of his interest in mass audiences and mass marketing. He became a regular television talk-show guest.

The key to his fortune was his willingness to franchise his name. He licensed a perfume for Jovan (“designer fragrance for the subway set,” sniffed one industryanlyst), sunglasses, $1,200 wedding gowns and even an instant-coffee jar. The proceeds from those deals bought him a house in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of New York City that had been imported in 1848 by the Wells Fargo family, rebuilt and redesigned to resemble an Italian palazzo . He also owned a home on 50 acres at Long Island’s Oyster Bay, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

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