University Archives


Oleg Cassini, Jackie Kennedy's Favorite Fashion Designer, Handwritten Notes & Sketches for the "Completely Indian Collection"

5pp of notes and fashion sketches in the hand of Oleg Cassini (1913-2006), First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's favorite White House-era fashion designer. The notes and sketches are undated, but may be from the 1980s, when Cassini ramped up his activism on behalf of American Indian causes. On five sheets of legal-sized blue-lined yellow paper stapled together at upper left. Expected wear including paper folds and isolated minor stains. The last page has been trimmed at bottom, and has a square red mark at lower right. 8.5" x 13". Provenance: From the personal property of the Estate of Oleg Cassini.

The lot includes Cassini's notes, written in both English and Italian, for his "Completely Indian Collection" ["Collezione completamente Indiane"]. Cassini envisioned a fashion collection inspired by the design elements, fabrics, and colors found in southwestern American and Mexican Indian culture, notably the "Navaho", Pueblo, and "Azteko Mexico". He also drew upon other hallmarks of Western attire. The designer's notes thus refer to cowboy boots, ponchos, embroidered blouses, bandanas, and moccasins. Cassini's 30+ sketches of various articles of clothing and complete outfits feature cowboy hats, fringed pants, and cowboy chaps!

Cassini had been a vocal proponent of American Indian civil rights since the 1960s, when he claims to have urged President John F. Kennedy (husband of his most famous client) to revamp the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1981, Cassini was given honorary membership to the Navajo and Chickasaw nations in acknowledgement of his fundraising efforts. It seems likely that Cassini's "Completely Indian Collection" was just another manifestation of his intense admiration for indigenous lifestyles.

Cassini's notes and sketches illustrate his versatility as a fashion designer, especially if one looks at the very different type of clothing he designed and produced for Jackie Kennedy, the "American Queen". Cassini designed 300 outfits for Jackie between 1961-1963, many of them based on mod or Classical designs. The First Lady's evening gowns, day wear, suits, coats, hats, and accessories would create a distinctive "Jackie look" that would influence American fashion for decades to come.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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