Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

Sleek blond hair, a pencil-thin camel skirt, fitted black sweater and pearl stud earrings were all Carolyn Bessette Kennedy needed to look stunning.

With her natural beauty, poise and taste, she could have become a fashion icon for the 21st century.

Now she joins the elite ranks of women of style who have passed on: mother-in-law Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, princesses Grace and Diana.

Bessette Kennedy's strength of presence took her quickly from a sales position at a Boston area Calvin Klein boutique to the designer's New York showroom. There, as a VIP assistant, she shared her enthusiasm for clothes with celebrity clients. At 6 feet tall and a perfect size 6, Bessette Kennedy was the ideal mannequin for Calvin's minimalist look.

"My thoughts and sympathy are with her family," the designer said.

She chose a white slipdress by Narciso Rodriguez for her marriage to John F. Kennedy Jr. It was such a sensation that it made a name for the young designer.

A spokesperson for Rodriguez said, "He's going through a very hard time right now. They were very close."

Bessette Kennedy was often spotted at Prada boutique in New York, where she had salespeople remove labels from clothing she purchased.

"She was not a label girl. Everything she wore looked fabulous on her," Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld told Women's Wear Daily.

Fashion watcher Mr. Blackwell remembers her as "magnificently simple, proving less is much more." Her look was effortless, always uncluttered and polished.

She gained wide recognition for her style in L.A. at last December's Fire and Ice Ball, where she wore a winter-white, form-fitting Versace gown.

Recently, as Bessette Kennedy's public role began to mature, she favored Yohji Yamamoto for his inventive suits and gowns.

The designer never got a chance to meet her in person.

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