When Grace Kelly first appeared on the silver screen in the 1952 film Mogambo, the undoubted star of 1950s cinema was born. Yet it was her style which roused adoration amongst her fans; with her neat blond hair and homely, girl-next-door features, each film role saw Grace become a woman of elegance, revered worldwide and still considered one of the best dressed women in history. With her chic dresses, pearls and gloves, Grace’s style was classic yet detailed, and – in her latter years as the bejewelled Princess Grace of Monaco – dazzling. The V&A’s new exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon tells the actress’s life story through her outfits and jewellery. As she left her role as Hollywood starlet to become European royalty, Grace’s jewellery evolved from understated elegance to the breathtakingly unusual, thanks, in part, to her royal jeweller, Van Cleef and Arpels. It was they who designed her platinum engagement ring – a 10.4ct emerald-cut diamond, testament itself to Grace’s timeless jewellery style.
|Grace Kelly engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco||Grace Kelly’s engagement ring|
Most regard Grace’s jewellery as clean and simple – a single string of pearls or delicate diamond earrings. However the V&A’s exhibit reveals Grace’s taste for bolder pieces, including a platinum and diamond tiara worn at her first daughter’s wedding, and onyx and diamond earrings inspired by cockleshells. The exhibit also shows how Grace adored yellow gold and colourful gemstones, depicted by her quirky collection of brooches. From ducks and lions, to an unmissable diamond and sapphire daisy brooch the size of a gerbera, the brooches hinted at the playful personality beneath Grace’s composed exterior.
|Grace Kelly wearing the lion brooch||Lion brooch 1962, depicting her playful side.|
Photographed with her husband Prince Rainier III at society balls and charity events, Grace glittered in diamond chandelier earrings, collars of cascading gemstones and twinkling deco-inspired diamond bracelets. Yet despite the brilliance of her diamonds and the sheen of her pearls, it was never too much, never appeared ostentatious. Leaving the exhibit, I found myself smiling in agreement as I overheard a woman say to her friend "Her looks matter little to me… I just adore how she held herself… Her poise and yes, her grace".
|Grace Kelly at the Oscars wearing elegant pearl drops||Grace Kelly wearing pearl chandeliers|
By Kathryn Bishop
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