Bessette Kennedy's friends and hairstylist shared memories of her glamorous nuptials to John F. Kennedy Jr. in the new book 'CBK: Caroline Bessette Kennedy: A Life in Fashion'
A new book reveals that Carolyn Bessette Kennedy arrived late to her own wedding due to a snafu with her dress.
In CBK: Caroline Bessette Kennedy: A Life in Fashion by Sunita Kumar Nair, hairstylist George Kyriakos confirmed that Carolyn didn't arrive at her 1996 nuptials to John F. Kennedy Jr. on Georgia's Cumberland Island until the sun was beginning to set, according to Town & Country. Despite an extensive process of design consultations and fittings with Narciso Rodriguez to create her $40,000 gown, Carolyn had lost some weight in the days leading up to the event.
The dress had to be altered right before the ceremony, making the bride fashionably late, according to Kyriakos. However, wedding guest Sasha Chermayeff, one of John’s best friends, said Carolyn's tardiness actually made the ceremony that much more magical.
“She was late to the wedding, perhaps in her nervousness of getting everything perfect. I always thought that it made everything perfect in a way because the evening sun was setting and then the wedding was candlelit. It was beautiful," Chermayeff recounted.
Carolyn knew Rodriguez — then relatively unknown — from her time working as a publicist at Calvin Klein, and chose him to bring her wedding dress vision to life.
“She loved him,” close friend and colleague Paul Rowland said in the book of Rodriguez, who later went on to launch his own eponymous brand. “She wanted the best for him as she did for everyone. She always championed the underdog, and we all were in some way. That’s what made her so special.”
The designer and his team created three final versions of Carolyn's wedding dress in various fabrics. The one ultimately chosen was a pearl-colored silk crepe floor-length gown cut on the bias that became instantly iconic when photographs later surfaced of Carolyn wearing it, with the dashing Kennedy scion on her arm.
"Carolyn arrived with a seductive sheath of a dress, her décolletage coyly dipping thanks to the slight cowl neckline, her only concession to formal bridal attire were her silk tulle opera gloves and veil moving faintly with her breath as she said her vows," Nair wrote of the bride's breathtaking entrance. "Carolyn knew exactly what she was doing when she wore and chose that dress."
According to the author, the famous couple went to great lengths to keep their wedding a secret, wanting to keep the special moment private between them and their closest circle.
“It was perfectly choreographed. Everybody knew as soon as they left this little haven that the couple would have to face the press and the circus of life," Chermayeff said. "I think we all didn’t want to leave that bubble because it was so beautiful.”
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Nair's book explores Carolyn's lasting legacy as a '90s style icon, known for her effortlessly chic, minimalist looks. Slip dresses were a signature for the former fashion exec — and inspired the design of her glamorous wedding dress.
"It was bold because the silhouette was radically different," Nair told PEOPLE of the dress. "In fact, it's one of the best examples of how Carolyn would wear what she felt comfortable in. She always wore slip dresses but now she chose to wear it for her wedding dress."
Nearly 30 years later, Carolyn's style remains timeless, Nair said. "It transcends time. What she wore in the '90s isn't dated in any way, and we see that there are pieces that she wore that still appeal to us."
Carolyn and John tragically died in July 1999 after the small plane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. They were 33 and 38, respectively.
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