Jackie Kennedy Onassis personal letters offer a unique look at a cultural style icon
A new auction is announced
"I am SO sick of everyone constantly in black — like Mediterranean villages where everyone is mourning for 20 years." Reads one of the personal letters penned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that will go under the hammer via Palm Beach Modern Auctions this weekend.
For almost two decades – from the eighties until the mid-nineties, the former First Lady penned a plethora of personal letters to Bill Hamilton, who worked as Carolina Herrera's design director for 18 years. During the last 15 years of her life, Onassis was a frequent shopper at Carolina Herrera.
Interior designer Richard Langham also receieved numerous letters from the style icon, and 19 letters to Hamilton along with 10 notes to the late Bob Davidoff will go under the hammer at an auction hosted by Palm Beach Modern Auctions on Saturday starting a noon.
The personal letters were all penned at Onassis' Fifth Avenue apartment and her Chilmark summer house on Martha's Vineyard during the Eighties and the early-Nineties.
The sale also will see beautiful images of the cultural icon lensed by Davidoff, who first photographed Onassis and her family in Palm Beach during their White House years.
Auctioneer Rico Baca noted that the 1973 shot of Onassis walking confidently across a tarmac in wide-leg white pants, a silk blouse with her signature over-sized sunglasses is his favourite Davidoff image: "Of course, the glasses were her signature. I love it because women didn't wear pants at that time."
"The letters reveal an angle of someone who was inarguably the most famous person in the world for decades, and she managed her image remarkably well," Baca said. "You send someone a thank you note not because you have to but because you respect them. Everyone loves a thank you note. No one ever says, 'Oh no, I got another thank you note.' It's very old-school. It's also the right thing to do."
Baca actually worked as a hair stylist to the stars for 25-years in Palm Beach, and is well aware of the stresses and strains the limelight can bring: "These women have to be careful about the types of people that enter their lives. I know that with women like her, the phone is ringing all day and the mail is coming in — and it is all about what people want from her," Baca said. "Hamilton and Davidoff were in her life for what she wanted. They were not trying to get something from her."
Jackie O in Palm Beach in 1973
Jackie Kennedy with her son John en route to Sunday mass in Palm Beach
Jackie O at Palm Beach in 1973
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jayne Wrightsman at the West Palm Beach airport in 1968