In November 1963, shortly before The Kennedys’ departed for Dallas, the president asked his wife what she planned to wear to the event. The former first lady said that her husband had told her in an interview with William Manchester:
“There are going to be all these rich, Republican women at that lunch … wearing mink coats and diamond bracelets. And you’ve got to look as marvelous as any of them. Be simple – show these Texans what good taste really is.”
So she tramped in and out of his room, holding dresses in front of her. The outfits finally chosen – weather permitting – were all veterans of her wardrobe: beige and white dresses, blue and yellow suits, and, for Dallas, a pink suit with a navy blue collar and a matching pink pillbox hat.”
Jacqueline chose the strawberry pink, wool bouche, double- breasted Chanel suit which, it was said, was one of her husband’s “particular favorites.” Later that day, the pink suit was spattered with President’s Kennedy’s blood.
Jackie Kennedy was seated to the left side of President John F. Kennedy in the back seat of the open-top presidential limousine as it traveled through Dallas. Following the assassination of the President, his wife, still wearing the blood-stained Chanel suit, rushed at Parkland Hospital.
“I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw in the President’s car a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying in the back seat. It was Mrs. Kennedy lying over the President’s body.” Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife Lady Bird recalled.
In Death of a President Wiliam Manchester wrote:”The Lincoln flew down the boulevard’s central lane; her pillbox hat, caught in an eddy of whipping the wind, slid down over her forehead, and with a violent movement she yanked it off and flung it down. The hatpin tore out a hank of her own hair. She didn’t even feel the pain.”
At the hospital, several people asked the former first lady to change her gore-soaked pink Chanel suit. But, Jackie, obviously still in shock and in the fist phase of grieving, assertively refused, saying:
“Oh, no … I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”
Despite all the efforts that people around her did to convince her to take off the blood-stained suit, Mrs.Kenedy continued to wear the Chanel suit, which is now cited as “the most legendary garment in American history”, alongside Vice President Johnson as he was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States. Lady Bird recalled:“Her hair [was] falling in her face but [she was] very composed … I looked at her. Mrs. Kennedy’s dress was stained with blood. One leg was almost entirely covered with it and her right glove was caked, it was caked with blood – her husband’s blood. Somehow that was one of the most poignant sights – that immaculate woman, exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.”
The one regret Mrs.Kenedy had regarding that day was that she had washed the blood off her face before the swearing in of Vice President Johnson.
While the matching pillbox hat got lost somewhere and its whereabouts remain unknown, Jackie Kennedy removed the blood-stained suit the next morning, without cleaning the blood off the suit, her maid folded it and stored it in a box. The box containing the suit was later sent to Jackie’s mother who wrote a note reading “November 22nd 1963” and placed in the attic. The box was eventually donated to the National Archives in Maryland, where is kept out of public view in “an acid-free container in a windowless room.
Jackie Kenedy, in that pink Chanel suit, was the President Kenedy”s last sight before he was fatally shot in the head. The blood- stained Chanel suit has been described as the “emblematic of the ending of innocence”.
In addition take a look at the trailer for the upcoming movie Jackie.