The remarkable V&A and Grimaldi Forum exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon, has just touched down here in Australia. Officially opening on the 11th March, I was fortunate to be invited to an exclusive preview of this beautiful collection yesterday afternoon. Presented by John Kelly (Nephew to Princess Grace), Kristina Haugland, (Author and Curator of Costume and Textiles of the Study Room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Karen Quinlan (Director of the Bendigo Art Gallery), I enjoyed a rare insight into the life and style of Grace Kelly.
The exhibition charts the style life of Grace Kelly – Movie star, through to her evolution as a royal style icon. The garments on display are a beautifully edited selection of the full collection (to accommodate the gallery space), and include both original garments and some strategic reproductions. The famous royal wedding dress has been on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art since it was donated directly after the royal wedding. In too fragile a condition to travel, a meticulous replica of the gown in all its glory, forms the centre piece of this exhibition. The majority of the collection is from the palace in Monaco, the private collection of Princess Grace. I don’t wish to spoil this must-see event for you, so I have a few tantalising glimpses of what lies in store.
Each of the garments are packed and transported by an expert team, many garments transported already pinned in place on their mannequins to retain their shape. Displayed with great care behind glass and lit by soft beams, (garments can only handle up to 50 lux in order not to further degridation) the installations hold many pieces we know so well. Gowns from “Rear Window” and “High Society” hold your rapt attention as they enliven that moment in time.
Grace Kelly’s understated elegance placed her on many ‘Best Dressed’ lists as a young actress, and continued into her royal life.
“[Grace Kelly's] style set her apart..and is still something that many emulate on the red carpet today. You often see Grace Kelly wanna be’s walking down the runway, and certainly many brides; most famously Kate Middleton, have looked to her for inspiration in bridal elegance.” Kristina Haugland
When talking with John Kelly I asked about his experience in meeting so many people who loved Grace Kelly and the overwhelming legacy she’s left with those who loved her.
“So many of the young women, the ballerinas that she has touched as their mentor and patron; they see her as having been such a great role model and having such great support. Her friends in Hollywood who just thought she was a gas and had so much fun with her… and loved her as that ‘Gracie’ that they had such a beautiful time working together. They all say how they wish they’d made more movies with her…. Most importantly to her family she was a lovely woman who took care of us and helped us. She was a wonderful person.” John Kelly (Nephew of Grace)