There is a Delaware link to the 70th wedding anniversary of JFK and Jackie

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September 12 marks the 70th anniversary of the 1953 wedding of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and Senator John F. Kennedy Jr.

The high-society marriage of a 24-year-old and the future 35th President of the United States made national news and was one of the most famous American weddings of the 20th century.

Consider it the American equivalent of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981 in London.

The ceremony, held at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island, and then the 1,200-person reception on the balcony of the bride’s mother’s 300-acre oceanfront home on Hammersmith Farm, were “just like a coronation,” according to Life magazine.

Jacqueline’s ivory silk dress, with a column neckline, fitted bodice, and billowy skirt, was a highlight of the day.

A replica of the dress, created by a University of Delaware professor and three University of Delaware students, is now part of “Ann Lowe: American Couturier,” a special exhibition on display at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. It continues until January 7, 2024.

The original is kept at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and because of its fragility, has not been seen in public for 20 years. The original dress was last on display in a 2003 exhibition at the library, marking the 50th wedding anniversary.

The Delaware replica gown will be donated to the Kennedy Library when the Anne Lowe Gallery closes in January 2024.

Here are some quick facts about the wedding and the dress’s designer, Anne Lowe, a black fashion designer who helped shape American fashion culture but never received the recognition she deserved during her lifetime.

  • Jacqueline’s mother, Janet Lee Auchincloss, commissioned Lowe to design her daughter’s wedding dress.
  • But the dress was chosen by her future father-in-law, who wanted to create an American royal moment and make his son heir to the family line, fashion historian Kimberly Cressman-Campbell told CNN Style.
  • Seeing the basic dress might make you wonder if this is really Jackie’s style. It wasn’t. She preferred a French designer. “Even though it was a beautiful dress, it wasn’t what she wanted, and she actually compared it to a lampshade,” Chrisman-Campbell told CNN Style.
  • Lowe also made the ten pink silk dresses for the bridesmaids and matching Tudor hats. Bridesmaid dresses are not on display at Winterthur.
  • The wedding dress skirt is decorated with ribbons over 50 yards long. It has pleats on the bodice and scallop pin pleats. It also includes intricate pink decorations with orange blossoms, the signature patterns of Louis, who was famous for her floral decorations.
  • Visitors who see the replica dress may think that one of the orange blossoms, now made of polymer rather than wax, is missing in the back. But Lowe ignored the matter so that Kennedy would be comfortable when she sat down during the reception for a brunch that included fruit salad served in hollowed-out pineapple halves, creamed chicken, and ice cream carved into the shapes of roses.
  • Lowe worked on the wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses for two months. Two weeks before September 12, 1953, her studio was flooded and all the dresses were destroyed. Lowe purchased all new materials and she and her employees remade the gowns in just 10 days at a financial loss. She never told the families.
  • Katja Rawls, a professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, and Kate Sahl, a textile conservator at Winterthur, spent three days at the Kennedy Library in Boston studying and documenting the construction of the dress to create a replica of Winterthur.
  • Lowe left no known notes or plans on the making of the ivory silk dress. Roels said she found a pin still stuck to the original dress while examining it, and kept all the details intact such as a small blue bow on the hem of the petticoat. (“Something borrowed, something blue…?”)
  • While it took Lowe 10 days to make the dress, “it only took me 10 days to cut the whole thing,” Rawls said. The replica dress was completed in 200 hours.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress was considered one of the most photographed wedding dresses in history at the time, yet Lowe received no credit for the design. In an article in Ladies’ Home Journal, her name was never mentioned, and she was called “the colorful seamstress.”
  • Lowe, disappointed by the article, wrote of her displeasure in a letter to Jacqueline Kennedy’s press secretary. Lowe received an apology and the secretary said the description was not from Kennedy.
  • At the end of her life, Loy was penniless. The debt she owed to the IRS was paid by an anonymous donor who, according to a 2021 New Yorker article, may have been Jacqueline Kennedy.
  • Contact Patricia Talorico at or 302-324-2861 and follow them on X (Twitter) @pattytalorico

Remember the fashion icon Winterthur honors Anne Lowe, the unknown designer of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress

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