“This was Grace: natural, unpretentious.” – Howell Conant.
Paying tribute to movie star and beauty Grace Kelly seems to come as naturally as grace comes to Grace.
The much anticipated exhibit From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly – Beyond the Icon is not to be missed. For anyone interested in fashion, movies, the entertainment industry or modeling: look no further. Your Saturday afternoon is now booked. You can say hasta la vista to boredom. The exhibit at the McCord Museum is a fashionista’s dream.
Head of collections and research Cynthia Cooper guided The Concordian through the various exhibit rooms. “All of the material showcased here belongs to Monaco,” explained Cooper. “Our exhibit is based on the one held at the Victoria and Albert museum, but we chose to take a broader scope and to focus on Kelly’s personality and clothing,” said Cooper.
The exhibit is organized into six separate spaces, dedicated respectively to Kelly’s career, her personal fashion style, her relationship to King Rainier III, her values, her official role in Monaco, and finally her grace and elegance.
At the age of 18, Kelly studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
An added bonus: Kelly got to rub shoulders with handsome stars such as James Stewart, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. Not bad for a débutante.The result? By 1956, Kelly had performed in two Broadway plays, 36 TV dramas, 11 films and had one Oscar under her belt.
As such, walking into the first room is a stunner. Film posters of her movies including Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon and Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder are on exhibit and visitors can watch some golden oldies starring Kelly on screens.
Section two showcases Kelly as a fashion model. Kelly is known for her immaculate, simple grooming style. Did you know: Kelly was a very down-to-earth person, doing her own hair and makeup.
Visitors get to admire Kelly’s chiffon dresses, which range in a variety of colors such as periwinkle blue, caramel, or opera mauve. Kelly defined fashion, touching on elegance and simplicity.
So what is the typical Kelly look? Sunglasses, a Hermѐs bag, white gloves and a Chanel suit. A classic.
Falling in Love is the title of section three, where visitors learn more about Kelly’s budding relationship with Monaco’s King Rainier III. Love letters and wedding seating arrangements are on display. We see Kelly in her civil and religious wedding dresses (she had two marriages) and we discover more about what was dubbed as “the wedding of the century.”
What Mattered Most focuses on Kelly’s values. For all that Chanel and St-Laurent, Kelly was first and foremost a mom — and a very dedicated one, too.
Kelly was also dedicated to the arts. As Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco, she launched a series of cultural programs such as an annual TV convention, drama festivals and poetry readings. Accordingly, in this room, wanderers get to see Kelly’s most flamboyant gala dresses worn to such events. The azure Dior maternity dress is to die for, the Canin-Castillo white bead dress is a charmer, and the Oleg Cassini silk peach dress, lace-tied with a black bow, is too cute for words.
Finally, the last room showcases Kelly, using state-of-the-art photography. Close-ups of her face reveal the timeless beauty she was.
As Hitchcock once said: “There’s no one else like her in Hollywood.” Or in the world.
The exhibit runs until Oct. 6 at the McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke St. W.