"Mrs. Kennedy was that magic that you cannot explain"

By Saleah Blancaflor
May 19, 2019 01:30 PM
Advertisement

On May 19, 1994 — after decades as one of the most famous (and most headline-making) women in the world — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passed away in New York at 64.

In a commemorative special edition, out now, PEOPLE celebrates the life, legacy and timeless style of the former first lady, which persist 25 years later.

Growing up in the Hamptons as Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, Onassis’ sense of style was instilled at horse shows, prep schools and debutante balls.

Later, as the wife of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy, her fashion taste blossomed to include Audrey Hepburn-inspired looks with full skirts, white blouses and ballet flats, made popular in films such as Sabrina and Funny Face; as well as the sophisticated gowns and dress suits of the “Camelot” era, which she dubbed a bright, shining moment of hope and vitality.

Ron Galella/WireImage

Her style even influenced her husband, whose wardrobe she transformed by encouraging him to wear tailored suits instead of the preppy seersucker blazers and chinos he donned during his first years in Congress.

For Onassis, fashion was more than just clothes: It was a reflection of her identity and what she needed from the world over time.

PEOPLE’s commemorative issue Jackie: A Life in Style is available now on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold

After Kennedy’s assassination in the third year of his presidency, Onassis transitioned into turtlenecks, headscarves, jeans, bare feet and sunglasses for privacy.

The 96-page PEOPLE special issue is packed with photos of Onassis’ most memorable moments from her childhood, memories with President Kennedy and their son, John F. Kennedy Jr. Plus: a look at her marriage with Aristotle Onassis, as a widow in New York breaking into the publishing industry, and at her relationship with sister Lee Radziwill, who passed away earlier this year.

Even decades later, Onassis still influences the styles of many prominent figures, from first ladies to princesses and Hollywood actresses, all of whom have taken cues from one of the best.

“Mrs. Kennedy was that magic that you cannot explain,” fashion designer Manolo Blahnik previously told PEOPLE. “She typified America — just shining, full of optimism and intelligence.”