What comes to your mind when you hear “Grace Kelly”? Is it Monaco? Or her iconic wedding dress and fairytale ceremony? Perhaps her unforgettable Hollywood performances? Or her image of an always elegant, stunningly beautiful woman? She left Hollywood, married into royalty and became a princess. Just this part of her life would be enough to provide fuel to churn out a deluge of books and screenplays.
Her decision to leave behind a life of glitz and glamor of Hollywood is just a part of what makes Grace Kelly so fascinating. Equally influential during her acting career years, her royal life and even after her death, Grace Kelly has always been an inspiration for artists of all genres. To showcase her talents and legacy she left in the world and people’s lives, Galaxy Entertainment Group, with the Galaxy Entertainment Group Foundation together with Grimaldi Forum Monaco as co-organizers presents the “Grace Kelly: From Hollywood to Monaco–Artists’ Tributes” exhibition at the Crystal Lobby of Galaxy Macau. We visited the exhibition to follow Princess Grace’s life story and to admire the unique pieces of invaluable royal collections brought to Macau all the way from Monaco.
Before marrying Prince Rainier at the age of 26, Grace Kelly had already won three Golden Globes and one Oscar for her lead role in “The Country Girl”, directed by George Seaton. Grace Kelly’s outstanding acting skills, magnetic charisma and stunning looks made her a muse of many genius film directors and maybe even the whole Hollywood community. “Grace Kelly was enough to make Hollywood believe in itself”, David Thomson, a renowned American critic wrote. In 1954, Life Magazine put her on the cover (also exhibited at Galaxy Macau) calling Kelly “Hollywood’s brightest and busiest new star”.
One of the directors who fell under her spell was Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense and the reason why so many of us are afraid to shower alone. He featured Kelly in three of his movies choosing her for being classy, hardworking and for her “ability to pace herself”. For Hitchcock, she was a different kind of Hollywood diva, “a snow princess”, as he nicknamed her. Kelly, on the other hand, didn’t mind the maestro’s difficult character which amused her. Besides being a lifetime friend of Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock was also the one who introduced her to Cartier. Moreover, it was during the filming of “To Catch a Thief” when she met her future husband, Prince Rainer III.
Vintage film posters, the costumes Grace Kelly wore on film sets and Alfred Hitchcock’s movie trailers which she starred in, are all showcased at the exhibition. One of the most touching representations of Kelly and Hitchcock’s relationship is the series of black and white photos taken during film production; it is fascinating to see the tender friendship between the director and his muse.
Grace Kelly’s impeccable style and elegance was a huge part of her persona. It’s no wonder that her movie costumes and evening gowns are a major part of the exhibition at the Crystal Lobby. After leaving Hollywood, she didn’t stop being a focus of public attention. Her every appearance was documented by numerous photographs and so many of her looks have been proclaimed as “timeless” by fashion historians. In fact, she was included in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame and has inspired designers from Balenciaga, Yves Saint-Laurent, Lanvin and Dior. Her legacy as a fashion icon lives on even through to today.
Forever in the books as one of the most spectacular wedding dresses in history designed by Helen Rose–MGM’s Academy Award-winning costume designer, Kelly’s wedding dress is a gem of the exhibition. Unlike other iconic dresses, Grace Kelly’s gown for the religious wedding is still relevant today, even after more than half a century has passed. It is believed that the dress that the Duchess of Cambridge wore at her wedding with Prince William was influenced by Grace Kelly’s. The dress itself was inspired by MGM movie costumes, particularly by the wedding dress from “Invitation”. “Twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Brussels rose point lace” combined with Grace Kelly’s charm made her a princess bride no one could take their eyes off. The piece presented at the exhibition is a replica, as the original is too fragile to transport and remains on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Another iconic dress is the gorgeous gown designed by Edith Head crafted for the Academy Awards ceremony in 1955. The floor-length light blue gown made of French satin made Kelly shine on stage. That night brought her the Oscar for Best Actress and a cover of Life Magazine where she was wearing exactly that dress. Edith Head also designed many of Grace’s film costumes. All the time spent together made the two ladies great friends. And for the designer, Grace Kelly was also a muse: “We don’t have many great women stars anymore, but in the 1950s Grace was tops. She was an ex-model and she knew how to wear clothes.”
Kelly for Kelly
One more fashion item that became famous thanks to Grace Kelly is the Hermès handbag–the “Kelly Bag”. Once spotted with that bag when Kelly was trying to hide her baby bump from the pervasive paparazzi, Grace Kelly inadvertently forever tied her name with the renowned luxury fashion house when the fashion house named it the “Kelly Bag”. Nowadays the Kelly bag is a status symbol and one of the most desirable fashion accessories of fashionistas around the globe. You can see the giant Kelly bag (1.7m by 1.9m) made for Hermés’ flagship store in Paris at the exhibition.
Andy Warhol’s inspiration
The king of pop-art and one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol was fascinated with celebrities. His portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Muhammad Ali and even Mao Zedong are some of the most recognized images of these public figures. By painting a celebrity, he yet again proved their significance and immortalized their trace in popular culture.
Naturally, he could not disregard an idol of Grace Kelly scale. Andy Warhol painted her two years after her tragic death. But it wasn’t just her status that inspired the artist. He completed the work for the fundraiser of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, the establishment that is special for both Warhol and Kelly. For him, it was the place of his first solo show that elevated his career to another level. For Kelly, Philadelphia was her hometown and the university was where her mother used to work. It’s the first time for this silkscreen print to be displayed outside of the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.
By being true to herself, Grace Kelly influenced a myriad of brilliant artists of her time. Today, her name is a symbol of style, class and talent while her image remains an inspiration to many.
When: May 16–August 28, 2019
Where: Crystal Lobby, Galaxy Macau, Estrada da Baía de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, Galaxy Macau, Cotai
You can also join an exhibition tour, check the exhibition’s Facebook page for dates and time
How much: Free admission
For more information, check the event’s official page
“Grace Kelly: From Hollywood to Monaco – Artists’ Tributes” is part of the mega international art and cultural event Art Macao.
Happening from May to October this year, Art Macao brings together cultural institutions, hotel and resort operators, consular missions in Hong Kong and Macau to create an unforgettable atmosphere and cultural vitality to thrill residents and tourists alike.