Once upon a time, when glamour still reigned supreme and reality television and Kim Kardashian’s large derriere weren’t the center of pop culture, a glamorous Academy-Award winning actress fell in love with a prince. Their courtship captivated the world and their wedding, a royal affair, became the stuff dreams and romantic movies are made of.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco met on a photo shoot at the Cannes Film Festival in the 50’s. At the time, Grace was just 25 years old, but already a bonafide movie star in Hollywood. Legend has it, Grace actually wanted to cancel the shoot because she had to get her hair done (something I totally understand,) but instead, upon a fellow actor’s urging, she decided to show up. The pair hit it off immediately.
Grace had always had an interesting love life. She was even a heartbreaker, of sorts. She dated and dumped the likes of Clark Gable, the Shah of Iran and even broke off her brief engagement to fashion designer, Oleg Cassini. Grace and Oleg remained close friends, but the prince was different. The two began corresponding with heartfelt love letters and eventually started dating.
The prince swept Grace off her feet and moreover, he was the only person that could rival her fame, fortune and familiarity with public life. Grace hated the thought of outshining the man in her life and told her closest friends she had no interest in marrying a person that would eventually become known as “Mr. Grace Kelly.”
So, instead of choosing an ordinary life, Grace chose to become a princess. She left her charmed movie career behind and became a real-life, modern-day Cinderella. She moved to Monaco and became a dutiful wife, a good mother and a Hollywood legend.
There are a lot of different rumors about the way the rest of Grace’s life played out. The more salacious ones are said to be highlighted in the new movie, “Grace of Monaco,” starring Oscar-winning actress, Nicole Kidman. It’s debuting this year at Cannes, which I happen to be attending.
The movie shines the spotlight on how Grace struggled to find footing in her new found royal gig, which led to a tumultuous and troubled marriage with her prince (who was said to be cold and possessive.) Despite the fact Grace was living a fairytale life, she felt suffocated by it and longed to break free of her gilded cage. The Princess of Monaco dreamed of returning to Hollywood to become the queen of the silver screen again. Her husband was vehemently against it.
As Grace grew older, she found her own independence and freedom through charity work and being a devoted mother to her three wild-spirited teenagers (Prince Albert and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie.) Eventually, Grace would find a nice life in Paris, where she would spend half of every year.
It was there, in the ‘City Of Light,’ that she would find hers. Grace made new friends and started keeping company with younger, like-minded men. Mainly writers, directors and actors. Sadly, she would never return to motion pictures. Instead, she would tragically suffer a mini stroke, while driving from France to Monaco. As she lost control of her car, it plunged off the side of a deep embankment. The accident left her in a coma. She died the next day. Her 17-year old daughter, Stephanie, who was with her in the car at the time, survived. Grace was only 52.
Despite the movie calling itself a ‘fictional account based on real events,’ Grace’s children are denouncing it. They say the movie is based on ‘erroneous and dubious historical references,’ but no matter how the film is perceived by movie-goers or her family, there’s no doubt that still, after all of these years, Grace’s life was and is undeniably intriguing.
Perhaps, the strongest legacy she left behind is that of her image in photos. Her timeless look is still thought of today as ‘classic beauty.’ She was America’s pride and joy, beautiful and talented. Grace wasn’t just stylish and classy; no matter what was going on in her life, she presented herself in “A State of Grace,” always.
Which begs the question: was it because of Grace herself, or the time she lived in? Perhaps, it’s a little of both. Classic beauties (known for their fashion and femininity) like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were famous during a time that gave privacy to its stars and showed only the perfect, polished and pristine side of celebrity.
Nowadays, it’s a free for all. Celebrities get photographed by the paparazzi half-naked on the beach, without make-up at the grocery store or in numerous compromising positions. That doesn’t shape fashion. Matter of fact, it kind of sends fashionistas (like myself) into a tailspin.
When I’m looking for style inspiration, it doesn’t necessarily come from a celebrity. Instead, I find myself on the internet looking at old-school, glamorous Hollywood pictures, like that of Grace Kelly or I find myself leaning toward trends that are featured in television shows or movies. But, it’s usually about a certain time period, not the signature style of a movie star themselves. Then again, there’s reality television.
Say what you will about the Kardashians, the family (most notably, Kim) has managed to shape the modern day fashion landscape. She’s successfully launched or endorsed make-up, shoes, purses and clothing lines, making her millions of dollars. She’s even affected how some Americans perceive a glamorous lifestyle. I’ve interviewed Kim several times and find her to be charming, affable, incredibly smart and beautiful. Her success is NOT an accident.
You may not buy into her pop culture relevancy, but it’s undeniable, much like Grace Kelly’s influence in the 50’s. Kim’s popularity was recently validated by Vogue Magazine. Yes, much to the dismay of millions of people, the sacred and most influential fashion bible in the world placed Kim and her fiancé, Kanye West, on its April cover. The mag touted them as “The world’s most talked about couple,” featuring their upcoming nuptials and fashionable lifestyle.
Combining the past and present is probably the best bet for a modern day fashionista. While we continue to emulate film legends turned fashion icons, I think it’s just as important to explore and accept our modern day stylings.
With fashion leaning toward flower patterns, crop tops, pencil skirts and flirty, colorful dresses (pictured in the blog,) I find myself falling in love with the late forties, the early sixties, the mid eighties and 2014, all at once. It seems now, the best of those decades are merging, making for classy, romantic, sexy and comfortable clothing.
Even headscarfs and turbans are returning, too. One of Grace’s signature styles consisted of a headscarf and a decadent pair of sunglasses. The look is perfect for summer because it’s easy and effortless, not to mention regal.
My blog is a day early this week because, at this moment, I’m in route to Cannes. Along with seeing a movie about Grace’s life. I’m looking forward to spending time in a place that birthed one of the most perfect fairytales America has to offer. Despite Princess Rainier’s untimely death, her iconic style and fashion legacy continues to live on in a “A State of Grace” and that’s why she is and will always be one of my favorite things.
Silk headscarf by Hermes, Bal Harbour Shops
Dress by Anthropology, Aventura Mall
Vintage pearls, C. Madeline’s, Miami
Gucci sunglasses, The Sunglass Hut
Have a fashionable idea? Contact me.
photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Editor: Matthew Auerbach