This is the comic story behind Jackie Kennedy’s Halston Pillbox Hat

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was one of, if not the most important, fashion trendsetters of the 1960s. Point. From her oversized sunglasses to her signature style, she remains a style icon decades later, and few fashion statements have had a more lasting historical impact than Jackie O’s pillbox hat. In case you don’t know how the iconic accessory came about – or the creative minds behind it – produced by Netflix’s Ryan Murphy Halston, now on streaming, explores the life of iconic fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, who became famous after designing the item in question.

The first time Jackie put on a pillbox hat was for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961, and it turned out the look was a bit casual. According to Halston, Jackie actually dented its original design. “Funny thing about that pillbox hat,” Halston said during a 1966 interview via Fashion. “It was made too small for her … but Mrs. Kennedy wore it anyway. When a gust of wind threatened to knock it off her head, it dented her hat. The Seventh Avenue copycat hatters reproduced the design by the thousands exactly that every pill box had a dent. “How about that!

At the time, Halston Bergdorf was Goodman’s in-house milliner, and for obvious reasons, his career really got going after the inauguration. In the mid-1960s, he designed clothing and befriended Hollywood’s elite, but not everyone seemed happy with his success. The fashion designer Oleg Cassini – Jackie’s personal couturier who created a total of 300 looks for the former FLOTUS over the years – later insisted that it was his idea to equip Jackie with a pillbox hat. According to Oleg, the pill box was included in the sketches he provided Jackie with before the dedication ceremony.

After this The New York Times stated that Halston was actually the man behind the pillbox in a 1973 profile, Oleg called the claim “an outright lie”. According to Steven Gaines’ 1991 book, Simply Halston: The Untold StoryOleg claimed that while Halston was the one who physically made the hat Jackie wore to the inauguration, he created the original design. “A pillbox hat might not be important, but the truth is,” Oleg wrote.

While it’s still open to debate whether Oleg played a role in the design of the hat, there’s no denying that Halston’s creation made both him and Jackie style-setters. In fact, Halston’s star continued to rise in the 1970s before the designer took a turn in the 1980s after he was known to have lost the right to design under his own name. Then things got worse: in 1988 Halston tested positive for HIV and died on March 26, 1990 of lung cancer complicated by HIV, although his name lives on through his brilliant designs.

Clock Halston on Netflix to learn about the rise, fall, and role of the designer that made Jackie Kennedy a fashion icon for the ages.

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