Behind those dark eyes was a quick and inventive mind. Because of Jackie’s voracious reading, she was very substantive with deep knowledge on a wide range of subjects. But perhaps making her yet rare, she was highly imaginative and very talented. She did not only appreciate culture, but was able to translate her appreciation onto paper and canvas as she wrote poems and painted. On a trip to Europe with her sister, instead of sending mere postcards, the sisters wrote and illustrated a dazzling book which they entitled – “One Special Summer”. The book used illustrations, photographs, and poems to tell the tale of their adventures. The book bore the unmistakable imprint of Jackie’s style – witty, urbane, and irreverent. Jackie also understood herself as a canvas and with the slightest gesture, like a wonderful brooch or jaunty scarf, she acquitted herself with the same urbane, witty, and irreverent style.
In 1951, the twenty-one year old Jackie revealed a glimpse of her sophisticated fashion sense when she entered Vogue’s Prix de Paris contest, a competition that the magazine offered with its top prize being an editing job in New York and Paris. Her self-portrait she wrote: “I have a square face and eyes so unfortunately far apart that it takes three weeks to have a pair of glasses made…” She also had to submit an essay about three people she wished she had known, and her choices were Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, and Serge Diaghilev. Of the first two she wrote, “[they] were rich men’s sons who lived like dandies and ran through what they had and died in extreme poverty… [Each] used as his weapons venom and despair and could, with the flash of an epigram, bring about what serious reformers had for years been trying to accomplish.” Going even further, she was asked to design a marketing campaign for a new perfume. “compare it to wine”, she suggested, “call them both ‘intoxicating liquids – the petal and the grape’ – and print not the typical photo of a perfume bottle, but rather a wine cellar with a perfume labeled Lentheric, Numero 6/1950, just like wines are cataloged.” For good measure, she also included an entire artistic layout. Also, asked whether she thought Vogue should model its clothes on anonymous models or use celebrities or “ladies of distinction”, Jackie replied, “A model’s job is to efface herself and call attention to her dress… But Vogue would be a bore if it offered nothing but poker-faced mannequins posturing through its pages. It would have the commercial deadness of some wholesale buyer’s magazine.” Needless to say, Jackie won the contest (though later declined the prize).