It's impossible to think back on '90s fashion without citing Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy as one of the biggest, most influential style icons of the decade. Arguably one of the pioneers of minimalist dressing, she had a way of making even the most uncomplicated of ensembles look incredibly chic. It should come as no surprise, then, that Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's wedding dress was inherently simple, and her pick has continued to serve as a major source of inspiration for the bride-to-be who prefers understated elegance over anything else.
Bessette-Kennedy's sleek, white dress feels as relevant as ever today, especially considering the fact that '90s style is currently experiencing a renaissance. What's more, the Calvin Klein publicist's wedding-day look was considered a game-changing one, for the very reason that it paved the way for the minimalist bride. She made it acceptable (not to mention, covetable) to walk down the aisle in a simple, uncomplicated style in lieu of a princess-like ballgown (think: over-the-top embellishments and tulle).
The style icon said "I do" to John F. Kennedy Jr. in a pearl-white, biased-cut slip dress by Narciso Rodriguez, who, at the time, was an up-and-coming designer. The floor-grazing number, which is reminiscent of today's ever-popular slip dresses, was cut from a flowy, silk-crepe fabric and featured a drape-like front with understated shoulder straps. It was, in a word, elegant.
Bessette-Kennedy chose to wear her understated dress with the perfect accessories: a long, tulle veil and sheer gloves. Her hair was pulled back into an effortless, low bun and her makeup was all about natural-looking glow.
The couple officially tied the knot on Sept. 21, 1996, in what has been described as a small, intimate ceremony that took place on a secluded island off the coast of Georgia. According Denis Reggie, the wedding photographer, only about 35 guests were in attendance to witness the two exchange their vows — so intimate it was, indeed. And though very few photos were released from their ceremony, the ones that offer a glimpse into their wedding reveal the most important element: Bessette-Kennedy's minimalist bridal look.
It's no secret that the hunt for the perfect wedding dress can be a long, daunting one. But once you narrow down the aesthetic you're looking for — whether you want a fairytale-like ball gown or a sleek, simple pick without all the added bells and whistles — the search becomes much less overwhelming.
For the bride-to-be who prefers, simple, understated elegance, Bessette's wedding dress of the late '90s may be your calling card. It's a throwback style that seamlessly fits into some of today's most popular dress trends (read: draped, silk silhouettes with spaghetti-strap shoulders.) Ahead, shop The Zoe Report's roundup of Bessette-inspired wedding dresses the style icon would, no doubt, approve of.