Grace Kelly – Style Icon

Words by Mel Forsyth

Image from the Internet

I love clothes, especially dresses and dresses that feature lace, so when I heard that Bendigo Gallery was holding the Grace Kelly ‘Style Icon’ exhibition as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival I was keen to go along.

Before going to the exhibition I knew very little about Grace Kelly. I knew she was an actress in the fifties who became a princess when she met and married Prince Reiner III. I knew that her style has been described as ‘simple elegance’ and I had seen various images in the media to back that up. Images of her as a Hollywood actress in the fifties, photos from her wedding to Prince Reiner and that amazing wedding dress with the lace bodice as well as a few images of her as a princess wearing clothes designed by Chanel, Givenchy and Dior. I was not really convinced of her ‘style icon’ status, but maybe that is because Grace’s style is just not my style?

I also have to admit that I am always a little dubious when terms like ‘style icon’ are used. In my opinion the term ‘style icon’ is used all too often these days to describe celebrities who simply know how to follow a trend, have the money to buy from the top labels or who have stylist to tell them what to wear. Having said that, I went along to the exhibition, excited to be seeing old style tailoring and lots of antique lace dresses!

The exhibition was divided into 3 sections – the actress, the bride and the princess. The actress wore pencil skirts, silk blouses and mid-length dresses nipped at the waist with a full skirt. Costume designers Helen Rose and Edith Head featured in the first part of the exhibition and clearly influenced Grace’s early style.

Tailored skirt suits and dress featured in the second part of the exhibition. The actress turned princess invested heavily in Chanel, Givenchy and Lanvin to create an image that was elegant and sophisticated.
Marc Bohan’s reign at Dior made up a significant part of Grace’s wardrobe from the late 60’s onwards. Dresses’ made from Flamboyant fabrics, ornate Jewellery and head pieces feature towards the end of the exhibition. I have to admit; by the end I was converted. Grace Kelly had great style. The one thing that really stood out to me was her ability to make a plain or simple outfit look amazing. An exhibition well worth seeing!

Bendigo Art Gallery

The show runs until 17 June 2012.