Thursday, 25 March 2010

Amazing Grace

When Ava Gardner gets into a taxi, the driver knows at once that she's Ava Gardner," Grace Kelly once said. "It's the same for Lana Turner and Elizabeth Taylor, but not for me. I'm never Grace Kelly. I'm always someone who looks like Grace Kelly."

She has never gone far from the public conciousness even though she starred in only 11 films in a six year career that was given up when she married in 1956. She is about to catapault into the public eye again in a new exhibition that opens at the V & A next month. Why do I love her? Perhaps it is because of her inaccessible look, a blonde, icy allure that I will never possess (being olive skinned and brunette) but more than that the clothes she wore with such aplomb are quintessentially of an age and, yes, I'm stating the blindingly obvious, but how often does one wear a tailored pencil suit or accessorize with a wonderfully large brimmed hat? The streamlined silhouette of the 50s is the one the Grace will be remembered for, not the more voluminous, up-to-the minute outfits of the 60s that she wore later in her short life.

The exhibition promises to dissect the elusive Grace Kelly look that we are all familiar with, as encapsulated by the actress on and off screen, and, of course, also by a long line of pale imitators who include everyone from Kate Winslet to Diana, Princess of Wales and more recently (and forgivably as at least she's in period) Mad Men's Betty Draper. Kelly's signature white gloves, the neatly pressed masculine shirt teamed with narrow cropped trousers and polished loafers, the demure tailored day suits worn with a sensible mid-heel and, naturally, the Hermès Kelly bag, will all come under scrutiny once again.

Grace will also be the cover girl on the May edition of Vanity Fair (US), definately worth trying to get hold of, also check out the stunning slideshow on their website.

To prep up pre-exhibition I recommend Rear Window, To Catch A Thief and High Society, my top three favourite Grace films. I will also adopt the most ladylike apparell I can lay my hands on when I go and view it, in homage to Princess Grace. If anyone would like to buy/ lend/ thieve me a Kelly bag for the occasion, do get in touch.

Some rather fabulous gowns, ideal for everyday wear

I'm sure we all look this chic when walking the dog..

....or indeed when cycling, bare feet perhaps slightly ill advised there...

And finally with arguably the world's most eponymous bag...sigh...

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