Jessica McClintock, the Designer Behind Hillary Clinton's Wedding Dress, Has Died At 90

Her legacy helped shape bridal fashion today.

Jessica McClintock

Getty

Jessica McClintock, the cult-favorite dress designer known for her lace-covered, cottagecore inventions died at the age of 90 in her home on Feb. 16, according to The New York Times.

The teacher-turned-designer rose to fame in the ‘70s for her hippie, flower child-inspired dress designs, which would later become known as the “granny dress,” is still beloved today.

She invested in the San Francisco-based company Gunne Sax in 1969 before completely taking over the business venture as sole designer, owner, and saleswoman. With little design experience but strong sewing skills, McClintock launched an iconic era in the history of fashion.

In the ‘70s, her popular designs were often bought for special occasions like proms and weddings. In fact, Hillary Rodham Clinton chose one of Gunne Sax’s dresses for her wedding to husband Bill Clinton. The former Secretary of State actually picked out the Victorian dress the night before her wedding at the Dillard’s at her local mall for $53 (the equivalent to around $250 today). The flowy and lacy floor-length dress caught Rodham Clinton’s eye immediately.

“I saw this dress and fell in love with it,” Rodham Clinton said of the dress. “I felt acutely that it was meant to be. I couldn’t have done better if I’d been looking for a month. It fit my aesthetic and my sensibility. It was a kind of hippie Victorian, I loved the whole look of it, and I felt like the wedding gods were with me when I went shopping with my mom.”

Rodham Clinton wasn’t the only public figure to choose one of McClintock’s designs for their wedding day. Representative Jackie Speier, who serves California’s 14th District, had McClintock design her bridal gown. Even Vanna White flipped letters on Wheel of Fortune in McClintock dresses for a while. 

The prairie (or “granny”) dress is back thanks to the cottagecore inspiration flooding our Instagram feeds, and we have McClintock to thank for its popularity. We've even seen more casual, Victorian wedding dresses make a comeback in the last year with the rise of courthouse weddings, intimate ceremonies, and mini-monies, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

So next time you buy a prairie dress or see a hippie meets Victorian wedding gown, just remember the woman behind this invention: Jessica McClintock.

Related Stories