By Jan Tuckwood
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Hillary Clinton and Melania Trump wore white at the political conventions — borrowing a page from Jackie Kennedy’s style book.
Here are 10 famous women in iconic white clothes:
Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural gala gown: The first lady called this gown her favorite of all time. Made of opulent Swiss double satin, “there was almost a monastic cleanliness to it,” designer Oleg Cassini wrote in his book, “A Thousand Days of Magic.” “We talked about history and the message her clothes would send — simple, youthful but with a magisterial elegance.” Cassini added: “Simplicity is the key to perfection.
Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech dress: The former model chose this $2,190 dress by Roksanda Ilincic, a Serbian-born designer based in London, from net-a-porter.com. Notable for its sleeves and the zip up the back, the dress was figure-flattering but not overtly sexy. She chose a similar dress — an ivory Fendi with hand-embroidered mink and crystal detailing, also from net-a-porter — for a later convention appearance. Style expert Steven Stolman says Melania “understands the importance of telegenics and the message of consistency in dress.”
Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention acceptance-speech pantsuit: The history-making Hillary chose a white pantsuit to deliver the most important speech of her political life. “Hillary Clinton absolutely sent a message with her choice of color, something she has done consistently throughout her career,” says style expert Steven Stolman. “It was a conscious, cerebral choice that exclaimed, ‘I come before you in good faith as a reflection of your hopes and dreams.’ Purity? Probably not. But clarity? Certainly.”
Marilyn Monroe’s white halter dress from “The Seven-Year Itch:” Considered the most famous movie dress of all time, this halter style by William Travilla — he called it “that silly little dress” — sold for $4.6 million in a 2011 auction. Travilla dressed Monroe in nearly a dozen movies. She wrote to him: “Billy Dear, please dress me forever. I love you, Marilyn.”
Sharon Stone’s “Basic Instinct” dress: The short white sheath Stone’s character, Catherine Tramell, wears in the interrogation scene famously revealed her most feminine parts. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick designed it, saying: “Catherine was deliberately the icy blonde, similar to a Hitchcockian character.”
Michelle Obama’s 2009 inaugural gala gown: The first lady’s stunning white chiffon ball gown was designed by Jason Wu, a young designer who has remained one of her favorites. She wore a navy dress by Wu to a Canadian state dinner last spring.
Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia toga: White is Princess Leia’s go-to color, and she wears many white costumes in the “Star Wars” films. Why? White symbolizes goodness and light. Fisher said she had to tape down her breasts to wear the toga-like costume because lingerie would show. She joked: “As we all know, there is no underwear in space.”
Grace Kelly’s white sheath in “To Catch a Thief:” Designer Oleg Cassini was engaged to Kelly before she married Prince Rainier. He designed many outfits for her — including her dress with white collar for the “Rear Window” premiere — but this sheath was done by the film’s costume designer Edith Head. In creating “the Grace Kelly look,” Cassini said: “I put her in subdued, elegant dresses that set off her patrician good looks. I told her that her beauty should be set off like a great diamond, in very simple settings. The focus was always to be on her.”
Fay Wray’s torn slip in “King Kong:” If you’re going to be carried by Kong, you must wear a tattered white slip ensemble. The 1933 film scandalously revealed that Wray was braless, so censors forced a re-release. Wray herself chose her character’s blonde wig from the costume department. (Jean Harlow had turned the role down.)
Lupita Nyong’o’s 2015 Oscars gown by Calvin Klein: This dress has a story as dramatic as a movie plot. When Lupito wowed on the red carpet in the pearl dress, reports claimed it was worth between $150,000 and $10 million. It got stolen from her hotel, and the thief took two pearls to LA’s Garment District, where they were declared fake. So, he returned the dress. A Calvin Klein source reportedly told TMZ: “Did anyone ever say they were real from Calvin Klein? …Do they really make dresses out of real jewels since Cleopatra died?”