Grace Kelly’s style

01Apr10

Life magazine described 1954 as the “Year of Grace” because, during that year, Grace Kelly proved Hollywood’s top female box-office attraction, starring in no fewer than five films, including The Country Girl, a powerful domestic drama for which she won the best actress Oscar.Fast-forward to 2010 and it is another big moment for Kelly. This season, a diverse range of designers, such as Erdem and Prada, have conceived collections that reference her flirty femininity, as well as her signature polished glamour. And while Mad Men’s sensational blonde, Betty Draper, has been drawing attention for her Kelly-esque look of twinsets and pearls, the V&A will be celebrating Her Serene Highness with “Grace Kelly: Style Icon”.

The exhibition is an adaptation of “The Grace Kelly Years”, which was originally staged at Monte Carlo’s Grimaldi Forum in 2007. Frédéric Mitterand – nephew of former French president François Mitterand – spent two years conceiving the inaugural retrospective, and the V&A will display the selection he made from a meticulously maintained archive holding 250 of Kelly’s dresses at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

Jenny Lister, fashion curator at the V&A, has made its exhibition unique by investigating Kelly’s style through three succinct sections that reflect seminal stages in her life: namely, as an actress, a bride and a princess. Although the Paris couture Kelly flaunted as a monarch makes spectacular viewing, the key to her appeal is in the Hollywood finery on display.

Take, for example, an elegant coat-and-dress ensemble with knee-length hemline by Oleg Cassini. Born in France in 1913, the late Cassini, who was briefly engaged to Kelly, worked as a Hollywood costume designer in the Forties, before establishing his New York fashion empire in the Sixties. “I created the Grace Kelly look,” he often stated.

He certainly groomed her for fashion greatness by encouraging her to flaunt her model-perfect, size 10 figure in flattering, elegant clothes, rather than disguise it in the frumpy casuals and thick horn-rimmed spectacles she habitually wore off-screen.

“She dressed like a schoolteacher,” he told People magazine of his first encounter with Kelly, when she was an up-and-coming actress at MGM. “She neutralised her beauty because she wanted to be thought of as an actress. I told her she could be both. She had to put a little sex in her clothes.”

via Grace Kelly’s style – Telegraph.

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