When people think about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, they often think of the iconic pink suit she wore on the fateful day that her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., was assassinated in Dallas. Many people thought it to be a Chanel; however, it was a knock-off—made, like most of Mrs. Kennedy’s clothing, by an American dressmaker.
Nicole Mary Kelby imagines the lives of one of those dressmakers through the lens of that famous outfit in her new novel, The Pink Suit, a luxurious narrative about Jackie Kennedy, a young seamstress, and the creation of the pink boucle suit. The heroine and narrator of this fashionably compelling story is a young Irish immigrant named Kate, who works at the fictionalized Chez Ninon spending many hours making clothes for the socialites of Manhattan. Kelby’s descriptions of New York in the 1960s contain vivid imagery: her depictions of the fabric, the process and the time that the seamstresses took to make beautiful clothing may make readers eager for a shopping spree.
Once Kate learns that Mrs. Kennedy is a client of Chez Ninon, she becomes intimately involved with “The Wife’s” clothing requests and the inner workings of the “Maison Blanche” (White House) public relations department.
Kate is working a decidedly traditional job during a turbulent time in our nation’s history. Kelby captures many of the historically significant moments in unique ways throughout the book. Although Kate is an immigrant from Ireland and Mrs. Kennedy was perhaps the most famous woman in the world, their lives are intertwined through fashion, and, ultimately, tragedy. This is a novel that book clubs will relish.