I saw “Jackie” four times, and I’ll probably see it a fifth. I cry less each time, but I fear I’ll never stop being severely shaken by the cast of phenomenal jawlines. It’s a breathtaking biopic — a piece of history augmented by talented and stunning actors, a sublime soundtrack and exquisite costume choices by Madeline Fontaine.

Above all, “Jackie” gives life to the static, albeit immortalized, Kennedy mystique that today is only found in iconic photographs. A brief Google search gives you the album: JFK and bae beaming on a sailboat, cutting their wedding cake or flashing haunting smiles just before his assassination. 

Who lives like this? You wonder. Where does reality end and fantasy begin? Therein lays the Kennedy allure: the ever so Town-&-Country-ready spectacle, the impossible fairytale of Camelot.

Director Pablo Larraín absorbed the glamour and refracted it with a realized edge. Though we watched Jackie’s curated pageantry in action, we also saw the broken woman behind the perfectly blown-out bob. She faced the facts in public, but blunted her memories with Stoli behind her walk-in closet doors. The learned vixen in a Dior suit crumbled by nightfall in layered chiffon negligees.

I resent the definition of a style icon as it exists today — or that a woman of such capability and caliber is reduced to the symbol of a pillbox hat. An accoutrement or outfit does not make an icon, the iconic woman gives life to any assemblage of fabric; I digress.

It was heartbreaking to watch a woman’s world turned upside down, yet empowering to watch her reconstruct a new narrative with what remained. Moreover, it was refreshing to see an aesthetically inclined figure take a realistic course of action after a devastating setback. For each time I expected Jackie to fall back on her demure pretense, I was pleasantly shaken by her outspoken character. Natalie Portman’s Jackie is as authentically Jackie as she could be — unpredictable, dynamic, bold and tenacious.

This separation between expectations and reality, or the gap among fact and fiction, permeates the film, and as I later realized, categorized Jackie’s entire life. There’s a line in the movie that beautifully encapsulates this notion: “I’ve grown accustomed to a great divide between what people believe and what I know to be real,” she tells the journalist in the film who’s trying to tell her story to the world.

The prescience of this sentiment is uncanny. We live in a world where the word of the year for 2016 was either post-truth or surreal, depending on which source you find most credible. We live in a country where the president doesn’t really care to acknowledge what credibility means. We’re starting to lose our own grip on deciphering what’s fact from what’s fiction (shout out, alternative facts).

The fashion industry has sat comfortably on the fulcrum of fantasy and reality since its inception. For every frivolous form favored over pragmatic function, there’s a structured suit eschewing all notions of the inessential. For every egregious request overheard at a fashion PR firm, there’s a grounded intern keeping a tally (see: myself). Though reconciling the pros and cons of these concepts in their sartorial definitions isn’t essential for society at large, it offers a pared-down, yet dressed up representation of our liminal society.

Last week’s Chanel couture show did everything couture is supposed to do. The small-batch selection of charming confections inspired awe, and posited itself on the ever-growing goals list of show-going glitterati and average swine alike. Couture exists for couture’s sake, and it will always be accepted because no one really understands it. It’s the high art of fashion, crafted for the untouchable sect of society. It’s the most surreal slice of the industry.

And then there was Vetements, who took the roundabout, realistic approach to couture. Their runway showcased social types and their respective, expected garb — the society lady who lunches in her posh fur, the buff bouncer in leather, the polished SoHo gamine, the decidedly confused cowboy and every oddball archetype in between. Beyond their diverse characters, their racially varied runway is cause for celebration in itself. Vetements put the real in a place it doesn’t necessarily belong, and remarkably made it work. Couture may not be one-size-fits-all, but it’s definitely open for aspiration to all. Deconstruct the fantasy, imbue it with reality and watch life imitate art.

From the Kennedys to couture, mythology surrounds the inaccessible. But that’s not to say there isn’t ample legroom for a hefty dose of reality (looking at you, Vetements). Reality and fantasy are equally polarizing — dwell too deeply on a pipe dream and you’re a goner, but stare truth in the eyes and you’re hopeless.

Fashion, to many, represents an assortment of the impractical, and maybe that’s the magic of it — the stifling walls and borders of reality are replaced with limitless creative expressions. Rather than mimicking reality, fashion offers a better — perhaps more beautiful — version of it. 

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