Thursday, 29 November 2012

Vintage Icon: Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly, one of the most beautiful women who ever was. A classic beauty from Philadelphia who initially struggled to make it as an actress but ended up as Princess of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier in 1956. Her style is famous for its simple elegance and she is used as fashion inspiration to this day with Kelly-esque ensembles walking down runways year after year. Despite the simplicity in her wardrobe, Kelly created trends and acted as a fashion leader so much so that she was named in The International Best Dressed List 1960 and has been ever since.

 Her acting career was comparatively short at only roughly 6 years before she married. One of the people who was distraught at the end of this career was Alfred Hitchcock who cast her in his films Dial M For Murder, To Catch A Thief and Rear Window. It is said that all of his lead actresses after Kelly were based upon her blonde waves and striking red lips; the definitive Hitchcock Blonde.

Kelly with Hitchcock (L) and James Stewart at the premiere of Rear Window.

But let's talk fashion. Crisp cotton shirts, perfectly tailored cropped trousers, tortoiseshell sunglasses, dresses with nipped in waists and modest scooped necklines all worked together to create her effortless elegance. She never had a a hair out of place, looking as neat and perfectly turned out at all times and never in anything that could be considered bad taste. 

In a simple shirt dress with her husband Prince Ranier of Monaco. 

Working a Pussy Bow blouse in 1955 at The Cannes Film Festival

A slick back bun and lace that echoes her wedding dress.

Grace Kelly championed the bags of Hermes. She was often seen with what is now called the Kelly bag covering her first pregnancy bump. Hermes were delighted and quickly renamed the bag after her. This was the first instance of naming accessories after a famous face but began a series of named bags, such as the more recent Alexa Mulberry satchel after Alexa Chung or Mulberry's Del Ray (Lana Del Ray). 

Wearing the same shirt dress from above.

The photo above is one of my Grace Kelly favourites. She was one of the first celebrities to wear sunglasses at all times, in rain or shine, indoors or out and those tortoiseshell frames are still a fabulously glam and on trend accessory to this day.

Earlier I mentioned the wedding dress. Anyone who watched the most recent Royal Wedding will have coo'd over Kate Middleton's stunning McQueen gown. There is no doubt in my mind that the design was inspired by Helen Rose's original for the Princess of Monaco. Long lace sleeves, demure neckline and veil, figure flattering waist and a prom style skirt that Kelly was often seen in.

 Here are a few picks from the high street to inject some classic simple style into your wardrobe.

Freshwater Pearl Necklace £85 from John Lewis

Kelly-esque tote bag £35 from Warehouse

Long cream satin gloves £20 Beyond Retro

The shade Grace Kelly actually wore from Estee Lauder ("Princess Grace")

1950s lace evening dress £200 from Rokit Vintage

Tortoiseshell cat eye sunglasses £12 from ASOS

Kelly Brook faux fur coat £69.99 from New Look

Low heeled bejeweled shoes £65 from Office

All of this comes just in time for the festive season. Go classic Hollywood this year to your office party to stand out from the crowd in all the most elegant ways.

Gina x


  1. ohh wasn't she a doll? Absolutely perfect, beautiful and blond. I love her style, so simple yet oh so elegant. She wore such lovely clothes, accessorised perfectly. I am planning to go old Hollywood galmour this year, with my original 1940's handmade dress form LA.
    Love Lil x

  2. She was a doll, beautiful and very sweet. A kind, fun and caring wife and Mother and Princess.
    The dress that Grace wore when the Press came to the Kelly's home for the engagement announcement was not a "shirt dress", I believe it was called "shirt-waist". A shirt dress is a dress made like a man's shirt, just longer.
    One of the remarkable things about Grace is that she wasn't a "trend setter" and didn't care much about clothes. Even as Princess, she wore the same outfits multiple times, which i think is pretty neat. She was very careful with them, many are still in perfect condition.

    In Hollywood she was said to dress like a "old maid schoolteacher". She just didn't really care about clothes. Oleg Cassini is rightly credited for helping her improve her style (nice to date a top designer!), I think he either made or suggested she wear the dress above (Rear Window premiere, looking so lovely!) and many of the clothes people point to and say "What great style" are costumes from her films :)
    What i think is interesting is that she was so beautiful, she made a drab outfit look good. The dress from her engagement announcement day above was startlingly boring when i saw it on a mannequin. I was so disappointed! But her beauty made it look good. Also the accessories, the pink scarf, simple jewelry.

    Another thing you might find interesting is that she wore sunglasses because her very light-colored eyes made the sun in Monaco hard on her - so again, more a practical item than a fashion statement. And she certainly took them off once she was inside and sitting down :) I like the gold dress you selected, it's really beautiful!