Grace Kelly Exhibit Opens at the Victoria & Albert Museum: Classic Style Endures

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Pictured: Erwin Blumenfeld, Portrait of Grace Kelly, New York, 1955. The dress in the portrait is by designer Oleg Cassini. © The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld 2009

A collection of Grace Kelly’s clothing is on view in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum until Sept. 26th 2010.  The exhibit is simply called, “Grace Kelly Style Icon” and is sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels. How amazing that over 50 years since Grace achieved popularity as a film star, that her style still looks so fresh and modern.  In 1955 McCall’s magazine said of Grace Kelly, “ The thing that made her stand out is what we call ‘style’.”  Part of the exhibit is Grace’s well worn and often carried Hermes “Kelly ” Bag which she used to camouflage her pregnancy in 1956.  The Guardian UK reports that , “despite her high-maintenance image, Grace Kelly was surprisingly thrifty with her wardrobe. The signs of wear and tear make it clear she continued to carry the same handbag for many years – a sharp contrast to the habits of modern celebrities, who avoid wearing the same outfit twice.”  The floral dress that Grace wore when she first meet Prince Rainer was not a couture dress, but a dress made from a McCall’s easy to sew pattern.  Like Audrey Hepburn, Grace took good care of her clothes and wore them repeatedly.

 Pictured: One of Grace Kelly’s gowns from the exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum. This gown was worn in the film “High Society.”
(photo: G. Cattermole for Getty Images.)

I had the pleasure of seeing Grace honored earlier this year in Los Angeles at the Rodeo Walk of Style. When I look back at old Grace Kelly photos, or watch her in To Catch a Thief or Dial M for Murder, I think of her beautiful accessories and her simple strand of pearls. There are many things today’s fashionista on a budget can learn from Grace.  Grace’s fashion lexicon was simplicity of style and classic pieces. No matter what she wore, she remained the focal point. When I think of Grace’s style, her look can be emulated either with well chosen pieces from a discounter or with luxury fashions from or a high-end store.   Whether you are a fashionista or recessionista, Grace Kelly’s style is priceless. Her style included a colorful scarf around the neck, a simple string of pearls, shirt dresses with cinched waists and capri pants with ballet flats.

 Pictured: The Edith Head designed dress Grace wore in Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” is part of the VA exhibit.
Photo Credits: Dress photo from the AP wire. Grace Kelly in “Rear Window” photo courtesy of the Everett Collection/Rex Features.

If you can’t make it to London for the exhibit, then visit the Victoria & Albert museum online to experience her style through the magic of the Internet. Designer treasures in the exhibit feature movie studio designers like Edith Head, and high fashion names like Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. If you can make it to London, check out the special deals at The Connaught Hotel (where Grace stayed when she was in London) and their special Grace Kelly cocktails. You’ll also see Grace on the May issue of Vanity Fair magazine looking like she posed in 2010 for the cover.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.

1 Comment

  1. The Image Expert

    April 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Grace Kelly was aptly named — such grace! She simply exudes class.