Oh, Jackie!

Jackie Rogers
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

The celebrated fashion designer Jackie Rogers once stated, “Age never occurs me. It’s a great thing unless it’s used against you.” Indeed, she looks decades younger than her 80 some odd years and has lead quite the life thus far.  So much so, that when she starts a sentence with, “Did I tell about?” (as she is known to do), you can bet you won’t fall asleep. It is guaranteed to be a doozy, and worth remembering.

Jackie Rogers (far right) with Coco Chanel 1962 photo by Douglas  Kirkland

She could tell you about her unconventional childhood (and while she admits to having been a tomboy, boy oh boy, did men ever chase her when she got older!) She could tell you about her relationships with princes and barons and famous stars like, Peter O’Toole and Sammy Davis Jr. (she had a firsthand glimpse of the carrying on, the drinking, the partying with the Rat Pack and said, ‘Let me out of here’! As crazy as I might have been, I wasn’t that crazy.”)

Jackie Rogers with Marcello Mastroianni on the set of 8 1/2

She could tell you about her experiences as a big band singer, a Studio 54 regular, a denizen of Rome’s la dolce vita, and a Hollywood starlet (she had a bit part in Fellini’s iconic movie “8 ½”). She could tell you about the time she was in Paris and bought her first Chanel suit (it was 1959 and it cost $600) and the time she was hired on the spot by Coco Chanel. She became her favorite mannequin and began working with her on the collections. There have even been countless rumors that the two had been lesbian lovers. When asked several years ago, if it was true, her answer was, “Absolutely…why not? If it turns people on…it will be good for my memoir. Hell, I’ve heard so many stories about myself it turns me on.”

Jackie Rogers (middle front row) as a Chanel model in the 60’s

She could tell you about her years as a menswear designer and regale you with stories about her innovative barbershop boutique, “Jackie Rogers for Men”, which was located on Madison Avenue and literally changed the concept of boutiques. It was lightyears ahead of its time and garnered clients such as Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson and Winthrop Rockefeller. She could tell you that she is the one who proposed the black and white wardrobe worn by John Travolta when he starred in “Saturday Night Fever”, and after encouragement from Bill Blass, she started designing womenswear.

Jackie Rogers ivory organza tie-front jacket

When a simple white organza blouse with a slightly ruffled collar worn by Lee Radziwell was featured on the cover of WWD in 1982, she gained instant name recognition. (She still sells versions of that blouse; they are made of silk satin face organza, range in price from $895 – $1695, and fall under the category of “Eternal Favorites” on her website, www.jackierogers.com). Among the rather eclectic list of women she has dressed are Jackie Kennedy, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Condoleeza Rice, Courtney Love, Betty Catroux, Salma Hayek.

Chanel inspired wool multi colored tweed jacket
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

While she closed her women’s boutique (it was located on Madison Avenue) several years ago, she still has a shop on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and on Job’s Lane in Southampton (it’s closed for the season) and she has a design studio on West 38th Street. Her demi-couture dresses and evening separates are timeless, seasonless , and unapologetically “European”. Well after all, she did cut her teeth at Chanel where she learned first-hand about personal style and fashion design. She proudly says that she’s the “only designer today who ever worked with the great Coco Chanel”. Like Coco, Jackie never uses darts, she cuts on the bias, and she cuts off grain.

Silver silk lame one shoulder pleated gown
Photo: Marilyn Krischner

On Thursday, an intimate group that included customers and members of the press ( Lauren Day Roberts, decorator Dara Sowell, Sibylle Eschapasse who works for the U.N. and also writes a blog on style for the Epoch Times among them) were invited to Jackie’s fabulously chic Park Avenue apartment for mimosas, hors d’oeuvres, and an exclusive fashion presentation of “A Collection for all Seasons”. The dresses range in price from $1495 – $2895, jackets are $2895 – $3495, and gowns run from $3295 – $8000. This is the second time she has shown this way and she plans to repeat it again in the near future. A percentage of the sales go to ARF, Animal Relief Fund, and the animal lover’s two very attentive and very adorable dachshunds, followed her wherever she went. And yes, she even sells dog slings ($65- $95) on her website.

Yellow silk brocade jacket with stork print
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Among the pieces that caught my eye were the group in yellow silk brocade printed with a wildlife design of a stork: there’s a jacket, a blazer (which Jackie was also wearing), a long tunic, and wide legged trousers); the fluid liquid silver pleated silk lame 1 shoulder long evening dress; a knee length knife pleated two piece black dress with a beautifully cut top and wide belt.

And, as an homage to Chanel, there was an elongated, fitted, multi colored wool tweed jacket with asymmetrical closure. While it was shown over wide legged ivory pants, I surmised that it would look as good over black velvet cigarette pants or jeans for that matter.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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