15 March 2018




Iconic people are often marked by their iconic clothing. Once these people are no longer wear those fashions – have you ever wondered what happened to their fashion items? Most of these find their ways into museums – lets look at 5 of the world’s iconic fashion items and where they are now.

Jackie Kennedy's Watermelon Pink Suit

Jackie Kennedy arriving at John F. Kennedy's
Inauguration.  Source
Jackie Kennedy was an American style icon. The outfit she is most known for was her watermelon pink Coco Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat she wore the day her husband John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The pink suit was covered in John F. Kennedy’s blood, and despite repeated suggestions to change her clothes, Jackie Kennedy refused and said, “No, let them see what they’ve done”. When Jackie finally stepped out of the suit, it was collected and preserved by the National Archives in Maryland. Stored there out of sight, the suit is under the purview of the Kennedy family, who have confirmed it will not be publicly displayed until 2103.

Frida Kahlo’s Booted Prosthetic Leg

Frida Kahlo's prosthetic leg on display at the
 V&A.  Source
Frida Kahlo, famous feminist artist and proliferate supporter of Mexican culture, is often coloured by her tragic story of a near-fatal bus accident that severely compromised her spine, which later led to extended bed rest and leg amputation. In classically radical and rebellious fashion, Frida wouldn’t let her physical issues prevent her from leading an extraordinary life. She would adorn herself with vibrant colours central to Mexican culture, fill her home with gardens and exotic pets, paint herself with bright makeup, and cover her hair with flowers. When she was given a prosthetic leg, she strapped a beautiful red boot to it, making it as beautiful as the clothing she wore.

When Frida died in 1954 at the age of 47, husband Diego Rivera locked away all her possessions with instructions to never touch them until after his death, over 50 years later. The collection was opened in 2004, revealing a treasure trove of items like makeup, clothing, jewelry, and intimate possessions which Frida had used to construct her identity. The collection is currently being exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. The exhibit explores how Frida empowered herself using art, clothing and style during the most difficult times in her life.

Ginger Spice’s Union Jack Platform Boots

Ginger Spice's shoes on display at the Bata
Shoe Museum. Source
Geri Halliwell, or better known as Ginger Spice, was known for her wild outfits and love for the British Union Jack. Along with her Union Jack “little Gucci dress,” Ginger and the other four Spice Girls loved to wear platform boots. This pair of Union Jack platform boots was worn by Ginger Spice during the Spice World movie, and now currently lives at the Bata Shoe Museum. The boots are presently in storage but will periodically be featured in the Bata’s shoes of famous people exhibit on the first floor of the museum.

Abraham Lincoln’s Stovepipe Top Hat

Abraham Lincoln's hat on display at the Smithsonian
 Institution. Source
Despite Lincoln’s 6’4” height, he wore a tall stovepipe top hat to accentuate his height even further, which became a critical piece of political identity during his time as the 16th President of the United States. The most famous of his hats was the one he wore the night he was assassinated at the Ford’s Theatre on April 14th, 1865. That hat was sitting on the ground beside Lincoln before he was shot, and the hat and the chair Lincoln was in were quickly removed after the murder by the War Department to be used as evidence during the shooter’s trial. The hat was donated to the Smithsonian Institution as part of the Lincoln Memorial Association Collection and has been known to go on display – as seen here.

John Lennon's spectacles. Source

John Lennon’s Spectacles 

John Lennon’s iconic style was often associated with a seemingly practical fashion item – his metal-rimmed eye glasses. These glasses, along with more than 100 other priceless items belonging to Lennon, such as three diaries (including one recounting the last days before his murder), original records of Beatles songs, a cigarette case, and a hand-written music score, were stolen out the window of Yoko Ono’s New York City apartment in 2006. The thieves had apparently reached through the open window, stolen the items, and transported them to Germany where police found them in a bankrupt auction house’s care in 2017. The spectacles are now back in the care of Yoko Ono, however, the other 100 plus items are still being investigated.

Fashion not only is a tool to define who we are as individuals, but a way to create a public identity to be known for. These iconic fashion items were an integral part of each person's public identity - becoming a part of who they are. The object's life can sometimes become as interesting as the person who once owned them, like John Lennon's glasses, which is why they find their ways into museums. They act almost like a stand-in for the person themself, and as an example of how interesting the life of an object, who out lives the person who once owned them, can be.

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