Grace Kelly. Her name is equal to a legend, while her style is truly inimitable. Actress, Princess of Monaco, fashion icon is just some of the titles that characterize this elegant woman.
by Yiota Dendrinou
Photos: Howell Conant, 1955, Jamaica
Grace started working as a model, before making her debut on Broadway in 1949. Afterwards she moved to California, where she participated in several productions, but it was her work with director Alfred Hitchcock that made her a true star. As an actress, Grace had a simple style based on the American culture, such as shirtwaist dresses and casual daywear. Retailers used to promote “the Grace Kelly look”, which fans bought in order to look just like her. The famous costume designer Edith Head said about her: “I have never worked with anybody who had a more intelligent gasp of what we were doing.” In 1954, Grace shined again, after winning the Oscar for her performance in “The Country Girl”.
“When Ava Gardner get in a taxi, the driver knows at once she’s Ava Gardner. It’s the same for Lana Turner or Elizabeth Taylor, but not for me. I’m never Grace Kelly, I’m always someone who looks like Grace Kelly.”
But one year later, a trip to the Cannes Film Festival changed Grace’s life when she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Their wedding has passed into history, with the bride wearing a wedding gown designed by Helen Rose. The dress was made of silk taffeta and silk net and its 125-year-old rose point lace was bought from a museum. The veil that Grace wore had thousands of tiny pearls sewn on it and her bouquet was made of lilies of the valley. Until today, her wedding dress is considered one the most inspiring garments. During her life as a princess, she preferred the renowned couture houses in Paris and has been associated with the fashion house of Christian Dior that provided her with clothes that were both formal and modern.
“I’ve been accused of being cold, snobbish, distant. Those who know me well know that I’m nothing of the sort. If anything, the opposite is true. But is it too much to ask to want to protect your private life, your inner feelings? Lots of things touch me and I don’t want to be indiscreet.”
Another fact that makes Grace Kelly an icon is that Hermès, the French fashion house, has named one of his bags after her, known as “the Kelly bag”. This bag first appeared in the 1930’s, but it came into the limelight in 1956 when Grace held it, so as to cover her pregnancy from the paparazzi.
Undoubtedly, exactly 30 years after her death, Grace Kelly remains a fashion idol that many people turn to search for inspiration. Even as a princess, she kept to her classy, elegant style, adapting it to the changes of each decade. She is an enduring icon that changed the route of fashion history with her choices.