Grace Kelly’s enviable resume — Academy Award-winning actress, glamour goddess, real-life princess, philanthropist, humanitarian, and muse — proved there was a dress for every occasion in her closet. Kelly worked with Hollywood’s most-wanted directors, handsomest leading men, and the best costume designers, including the famed Edith Head. From elaborate ball gowns to minimalist chic, Kelly could make every outfit the highlight of a movie thanks to her natural sophistication. The Philadelphia-born star collaborated closely with Hitchcock, who used Kelly’s fashions as a way to establish the style itself as its own character. The actress, who would have turned 88 this week, is still celebrated as a fashion icon. We take a look at some of her best fashions on film, below.
The Edith Head-designed evening gown with chiffon skirt and floral embellishments was designed to do more than look pretty. From blog Classiq:
In one of the most famous close-ups in film history, we are introduced to Lisa in a scene where a drowsy James Stewart awakes to a full close-up of Lisa coming towards him for a kiss. The neckline of the dress was kept very simple so that Grace’s face was framed by it for the close-up. When the camera pulled back, Hitchcock made sure that the public knew that Lisa was a woman who came from wealth. A dress “fresh from the Paris plane” was how Lisa described it, with a fitted black bodice with an off the shoulder, deep “V” cut neckline and with cap sleeves, and a mid-calf full skirt, very New Look style, gathered and layered in chiffon tulle, with a spray bunch pattern on the hip area, a nod to Lisa’s adventurous nature. She is trying to convince Jeff that she is the right girl for him and that she can live his kind of life (it’s Hitchcock after all, a man of details, and the costumes help advance the story).
Kelly’s dark fashion matches the movie’s narrative twists.
Kelly’s famous eau-de-nil suit that was re-designed for The Birds, word by Tippi Hedren.
To Catch a Thief
A white, strapless column dress to die for.
More on the wide-brimmed hat Kelly wore from blog Clothes on Film:
While this is a fun look and certainly daring for Head, it was obviously demanding for Grace Kelly to actually wear. She walks stiff, like an anxious student at finishing school. For once it was not footwear that caused the problem, but that oversized, crownless hat. Grace is wearing a flesh coloured skullcap, commonly favoured by dancers, to keep the hat from slipping off her turban. The overall affect is somewhat clumsy and awkward, though does contribute to the uneasy beats between Frances and Robie. Plus director Alfred Hitchcock had a close working relationship with Head, approving every costume for Frances individually. Evidently he must have been content with the result; he was not a man known for settling.
About the striking “New Look-style” dress from Clothes on Film:
To clarify what New Look typifies in terms of style… it was a fashion movement that began following Christian Dior’s first collection. The term was supposedly coined by Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Carmel Snow. Broadly defined, it is an out-and-out rejection of World War II austerity; a distaste for anything resembling a uniform, i.e. shapeless and functional. New Look was a return to the gaiety of La Belle Époque (1890-1914); the embracing of full busts and high waists above voluminous skirts. Most of Dior’s creations were padded with bustiers and corsets. Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, also hugely popular at the time, embraced the luxury of New Look though was more concerned with working from the body than controlling it like Dior. Balenciaga never used padding.
Swim turban and cat-eye sunglasses chic.
Best-dressed with Frank Sinatra.
Sleeves like clouds.
A halter, Grecian-style bathing suit in white.
Dial M for Murder
All red everything.
Kelly could make a utilitarian safari costume look high-fashion.