2001-05-12 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

On Wednesday, May 2, 2001, Queens Borough President Claire Schulman invited guests from Queens for a viewing of the special exhibitions entitled "Vermeer and the Delft School and Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years - Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Newsday, Citygroup, the Mc Graw Hill Companies, United Orient Bank, J. P. Morgan Chase and Co and Con Edison made the evening possible.

The evening of Wednesday, May 2, itself was a beautiful, warm and spectacular one to be in New York City. My husband and I were joined by our good friends - the Klein's. In addition, we saw so many people from the Rockaways and the mainland that it almost seemed as though we were at a great neighborhood gathering.

The New York Times has called this gathering of Jacqueline Kennedy's fashions "a first rate show of political art".  It is no surprise that a mainstay of fashion, the editor at Vogue magazine - Hamish Bowles, organized this exhibit.  As one walks through the exhibit, one can't help noticing that one could walk out today and be considered very fashionably dressed in any of Jackie Kennedy's outfit.  She kept to the very classic lines and designs. Most of the dresses are in muted tones.  Analysts point out the monochromatic shades as being shaped by the early days of television. These tones accentuated Jacqueline Kennedy's own personal beauty, her youthful years (for being a first lady) and her own style.  She projected an image of the French design as being her personal cultural taste.  Since she was young, beautiful and such a public figure, her taste in fashion was highlighted around the world.

As you walk around the exhibit, you quickly notice that the clothes are combined with film, video clips and magazine covers which place the exhibit in a historical context.  One video shows Jacqueline Kennedy's television tour of the White House as she explains its furnishings and their particular significance.  There are many points where they have placed the seating charts for formal dinners conducted at the White House.  In the margins Jackie has written notes to remind herself of different matters. There are also detailed handwritten notes which she sent to various decorators and workers in the White House to express her instructions for interior decorating. Her penmanship was clear and very legible.  She must have been every elementary school teacher's delight and I am sure that she received an A in penmanship.

One other item catches your glance. All of Jackie's clothes focused on her small and petite waistline.  She worked at looking good and she succeeded. Truly, Jackie Kennedy created herself.

The exhibit will remain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan through July 26th.  Afterwards it moves to the Kennedy Library in Boston.  Be sure to go and see it!

A great way to end this spectacular tour of the Kennedy years is to have dinner at the Stanhope Hotel across the street.  We did and we loved it.

Thanks to Borough President Claire Schulman and her supporters for having a beautiful reception and for inviting us to step back in history and remember Camelot.

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