Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s birthday was on Tuesday. Though we've already celebrated with an informal homage by way of tawny lipsticks (not to mention Alice Gregory’s constant praise of the woman she holds “highest in my mental hierarchy of Who To Copy”), we thought the PR-girl-turned-American-princess, minimalist style icon, and—we’ll just say what everyone’s already thinking—the original Gwyneth, deserved a post all her own.
As hardworking New Yorkers, we’re extra indebted to Carolyn’s legacy—one that involved rising from salesperson at the Calvin Klein store in Boston to the house's corporate offices in NYC, to the PR grind at Paul Wilmot, the VIP list at Pravda, and eventually clinching the heart of the world’s most eligible bachelor—John F. Kennedy, Jr. Behold the power of the turtleneck.
CBK was such a thing that every NYC colorist foiling before the 2000s has some story of how they had a hand in developing her beach baby blond color (and some aren't exaggerating). When she wasn’t cloaked in Prada, structural Yohji Yamamoto, vintage leopard print coats, backwards caps, and Hermès Birkins before they became so ubiquitous among the 1%, she was helping to get the then-unkown Narciso Rodriguez on the speed dial of every woman with a social calendar. Such is life when your high school yearbook names you “the ultimate beautiful person.”
But what we dig so much about CBK's style is that nothing felt overworked. She was simply classic, smart, and self-assured in a way that was calming rather than intimidating. She had us wearing Egyptian Musk, envying her strong nose and Marlene Dietrich eyebrows, and, despite her public persona, she maintained an air of mystery that continues to keep us musing. In other words: those are some big Manolos to fill.