When it came to fashion, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a world-class acquisitor. In her first year in the White House, she spent $45,446 more on clothing and baubles than the $100,000 her husband earned as president. During her years as Mrs. Onassis, she'd slip into Madison Avenue boutiques to snap up her signature turtlenecks, usually one in every color. The purse slung over her shoulder was Hermes, the bangle on her wrist Schlumberger. But the style was all her own. And as the 1980 song by Human Sexual Response went, women hungered to be more like the elegant pop-art princess: "I want to be Jackie Onassis/I want to wear a pair of dark sunglasses/I want to be Jackie Onassis, oh yeah, oh yeah."
And now they can. In a bittersweet confluence of art and reality, Jackie O is again mak-ing her mark on fashion. The sleeveless shifts women are wearing this summer stepped right out of the Onassis years. For fall, several designers are invoking her Kennedy-era style in spirit, if not line for line. Calvin Klein's to-the-knee A-line skirts and fitted jackets are unmistakably Jackie-esque. So are the notch-collar coats from Prada, the hot Milan design house, and the revival of bright pinks by Donna Karan. For once, though, fashion isn't just cashing in on celebrity. Fall clothes were already in production when Onassis died in May, but her death gave the trend more impetus. "Every magazine you pick up, she's in there, and she looks just great," says designer Nicole Miller, who's doing Jackie-style dresses.
Designers didn't start out to do a paean to Jackie, but it came out that way. After years of fashion deconstruction, it was time to segue back to more structure -- which defined the '60s and early '70s. "The influence isn't specifically Mrs. Kennedy," designer Miuccia Prada says, "but there is a return to the femininity embodied by her style." Ironically, when Jackie arrived at the White House she didn't have a mega-wardrobe, but she quickly amassed one. She and couturier Oleg Cassini developed a silhouette that was elegant -- and a radical departure from all the froufrou that marked American fashion. "She knew how to select what was good for her," Cassini says. Though her own clothes were more expensive than anything most Jackie watchers could afford, her style was accessible. "She was a model for any person who could go to the Simplicity or Vogue pattern books," says Richard Martin, director of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.
Designers and retailers are betting that women haven't had enough Jackie. In early fall, Bloomingdale's will fill its racks -- and even the windows of its flagship store -- with A-line dresses and ladylike jackets and demure low-heeled pumps. It will also have above-the-elbow gloves (can ball gowns be far behind?), big sunglasses and scarves (thankfully, no pillbox hats). But Bloomie's isn't using Jackie's name. "We would never capitalize in a direct way on her image," says senior vice president Kal Ruttenstein. Of course, every Jackie needs a Jack, so Calvin Klein's less-expensive CK menswear line includes a two-button blazer that he's dubbed "the Kennedy jacket."
PHOTOS: Stylish Odes to Jackie O: Clockwise from above: A Jackie sheath, from 1969, is a summer 1994 favorite of women like Claire Langford in New York; Prada's notch-collar coat and the 1970 Jackie version; a fall Calvin Klein suit seems inspired by Jackie's spare, Camelot-era elegance