Grace Kelly: A Legacy of Wholesome Elegance





This is a timely moment to take a fresh look at the silken blonde hair, the pearls laid on peachy skin, the decent, ladylike clothes and the serene beauty that was Grace Kelly.

The film star of the 1950s became, of course, Princess Grace — although she had that title in her movie roles and in the American mind’s eye long before Prince Rainier of Monaco met her at the Cannes film festival in 1955 and made her his bride.

Watching the crowds gravitate toward the screen where, in a strangulated, old-world British accent, the Pathé news reader is watching the Philadelphia girl-turned-Hollywood-sweetheart float away on an ocean liner, is to realize that everyone still craves a happy ending.

Even though “Grace Kelly: Style Icon,” at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, shows Princess Grace growing older and wider, with only Dior’s haute couture skills allowing her to keep a level of gracious glamour — it is the Hollywood version that visitors adore.

Kristina Haugland, associate curator of fashion and textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a contributor to the book that accompanies the exhibition, compares Grace Kelly’s American ease to that of Jacqueline Kennedy.

Princess Grace may not have been “happy ever after” in her rigid role as wife, mother of three and Serene Highness of a toy-town monarchy. But outwardly, she played her part perfectly, from early wardrobes by costumers like Edith Head, provided by the Hollywood studio, onward. Even her wedding involved MGM’s Helen Rose, who helped create pieces that looked picture-perfect, as the skirts spread from a tiny waist....

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