America’s sweetheart, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, more popularly known as Jackie Onassis, was the quintessential definition of a trendsetter. She defined the paradigms from the world of fashion to political arena to socialite spheres. She was the standard one compares to. The yardstick by which others were measured. After her tenure as the first lady of the United States, one in which she made a legacy for herself due to her immense versatility and wide-ranging influence, she became the prism through which successive holders of that position were viewed as well as one of the defining features of the JFK presidency.
Admiringly dubbed the “original style icon of the White House”, Jackie’s fashion style and outlook remain the most copied and imitated by ladies from all walks of life. Even today, her fashion sense still inspires the style of chic socialites and fashionistas, a fitting tribute to one popularly regarded as one of the greatest style icons of the last century. This is a fact which Times magazine attested to when they described Jackie Kennedy Onassis as “a bonfire style icon who inspired millions with her chic wardrobe and effortless style”. Jackie is also remembered as the woman who brought back a sense of historical stateliness and regal dignity to the White House setting and furnishing.
The accomplishments of this remarkable woman were by no means limited to the fashion domain. When you are Jackie, you do not dominate just one area, you win everywhere. Her skilful handling of the campaigning process and enigmatic public aura was credited by many as being responsible for much of JFK’s political successes over the years, as she charmed her way into Americans’ hearts as easily as she captivated foreign dignitaries and locals during her travels abroad.
Well versed in a number of international languages and cultural mores, Jackie gained a reputation as a globetrotter who drew in adoring crowds which included princes and presidents along with their entourage wherever she went.
It was on one of her travels around the world, this time an unofficial trip, that she first came to Greece, and Mykonos. From then on, there was no looking back. She was mesmerised. She loved Mykonos at first sight, and Mykonos loved her back. It was the beginning of a perfect lifetime romance between the luminary and the pristine hellenic island.
Jackie’s love for Greece began in 1960, after watching the film, “Never on Sunday”, which went on to win the Oscar for best original song. She was moved by the actress Melina Mercouri, her passion for acting and her ideas on what it meant to be Greek.
The American society was swept by a whirlwind of Greek fever and Jackie was not spared. She made plans for an unofficial visit to the land which the film had cast a spotlight on: Greece. On touching down in the summer of 1961, now immortalised in memory as Jackie’s Greek summer, to the frenetic cries of “Jackie! Jackie!” and receiving a regal reception from the Greek prime minister and other officials, she decided to visit the many scenic spots in the country. Naturally Mykonos was one of the ports of call.
In Mykonos, Jackie formed an enduring relationship with the beautiful island and the local people as well as with the island mascot bird, Petros the Pelican. Indeed on her very first visit to Mykonos, she proclaimed, ”This is the greatest trip in the world, I couldn’t be happier.” It was inevitable that she would return to this breathtaking island which had given her such joy and pleasure again and again, and that was what she did. During her Grecian summer she also expressed her opinion that artefacts that were taken away from Greece should be returned, thus lending her voice to the movement that demanded a return of the historical items to their original home.
The modern day reputation of Mykonos as one of the most liberal places on earth and a gay-friendly getaway was due in a considerable part to Jackie. A trendsetter, Jackie was a human magnet. Her status as a social icon ensured that people went wherever she did. She became the aspiration which people looked towards. Her many trips to Mykonos created the multiplier effect of drawing visitors to Mykonos. Her star power made the island famous as a luxury holiday location especially during the 70s. The gay community subsequently flocked to Mykonos and found it a very liberal place, thus returning to the island season after season, to enjoy the unique ambience and experience. It is no wonder that one of the most famous gay clubs on the island, the Jackie O, is named after Jackie herself!
Jackie’s continued patronage of Mykonos ushered in a blissful period for the island. Her husband, the famous Greek billionaire, Aristotle Onassis, built the only airport in Mykonos. Aristotle, also by virtue of his fame, helped attract big names to the island as well.
The strength of Jackie’s love for this divine Greek island was further demonstrated when more than two decades after her inaugural visit, she received news that her friend, the island’s beloved mascot pelican, Petros, had lost its life in an accident. She immediately started a fundraising process to find and procure another pelican for the island to replace Petros, going to show that great friendships never die.
Jackie’s life left its imprints on the sands of Mykonos in both the literal and metaphorical sense. Enchanting, dazzling, magnetic. Trailblazer, socialite, effortlessly chic. There are so many ways we will remember Jackie and when one strolls through the Chora of Mykonos, gaze at the wind mills on the hill, and take in the alluring sight of Little Venice, perhaps Jackie will once again come to mind, reminding us of the glamour she had brought to this once humble Greek island. Indeed Mykonos and Jackie are the epitomes of a lasting romance that was sparked off at first sight. This is how the story of Jackie Onassis and Mykonos will be told.