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Essay: Inspiring Grace Kelly's Lasting Impact on Modern Fashion

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  • Published: 1 January 2021*
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Emily Iasello

History of Modern Fashion

Professor Kramer

Grace Kelly and her Impact on Modern Fashion

Grace Kelly once said “"I favor pearls on screen and in my private life." I feel this quote emphasizes how she felt about fashion and the presence it had in her life. Grace Kelly impact on fashion is absolutely timeless. She not only had a bag named after her and a pattern which was specially designed for her, but she was one of the first celebrities to develop a signature style. She made almost anything look elegant. An article in 1956 titled “It started with Grace Kelly”, author Winefride Jackson states that grace Kelly popularized a minimalistic style. She notes “Of one thing we may be certain – the fashion and beauty barometer is pointing to a return to the style of classic elegance. The new trend has been largely determined by the woman whose name is hitting the headlines hard just now – Grace Kelly."

Grace Kelly was born November 12,1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of 20, she attended the Academy of Dramatic arts in order to pursue her acting career. Her rise to stardom began with her audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Although the school had already met its quota, she obtained an interview and was admitted through the influence of her uncle who was a famous play-writer. As a student, she modeled part time and appeared in ads in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook. After graduating from the academy of dramatic arts, she pursued a career on Broadway. Don Richardson who was onne of her directors and teachers, later said, "She would never have had a career in the theater," because she had "great looks and style, yes, but no vocal horsepower. She was then discovered through Gary Cooper on the set of Fourteen hours. He arranged for her to playa role in High Noon in 1952. Throughout the 1950s, Kelly worked very close with Alfred Hitchcok and well known director. She appeared in Rear Window Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock considered Kelly as the epitome of the femininity, saying she had beauty, style and "sexual elegance. “He later mentioned in an interview, of all the actresses he has worked with Grace Kelly was by far his favorite. Her last films were In 1956, when she appeared in The Swan and High society. Soon After she retired from acting in order to marry the prince of Monaco.

By the time Grace Kelly decided to retire from acting she was one of the highest paid and most respected actresses in the world. In 1955, she was asked to join the United States Delegation Committee at the Cannes Film Festival in France. During this she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who was looking for a bride. The couple married on April 19, 1956, she married the Prince in a very public ceremony. She abandoned her acting career in order to become the princess and was also required to give up her American citizenship. The couple had three children, princess Caroline, prince Albert and princess Stephanie. Despite many attempts by filmmakers to attract Grace back into the industry she resisted. She put her efforts into cultural and charitable organizations.

Grace Kelly had a large impact on modern fashion. Kelly was a muse to couture houses and modern designers. Her love for fashion began with her interest in acting. She was one of the first celebrities to have a signature style, which people envied. Her look was simple, minimal and elegant. Her signature style is still imitated in 2018. Throughout my research I found that her favorite designers included: Oleg Cassini who also dressed Jackie Kennedy, Edith Head who was awarded eight Oscars for best costume designer, Helen Rose who created Kelly's wedding dress, and Moss Malbry who dressed her in her earliest films, including Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder. All these different designers has a very significant place in Grace Kelly’s fashion appeal.

Grace Kelly not only had a signature style but also morphed staple items as her own For instance, Kelly always had a love for Hermes and is part of the reason why the brand is such a phenomenon in today's day in age. She wore the brand for very special occasions, her engagement and during her pregnancy. She had a notable love for what was formerly known as the Sac a depeches bag. Kelly used the bag in order to hide her pregnancy from paparazzi, this bag was then renamed due to an iconic picture of the Princess. Kelly also originated the Gucci flora pattern. After Kelly requested a scarf, Gucci thought that there was no existing design deserving of the princess. Thus, the flora pattern was derived. The pattern was drawn by Vottorio Accornero, textile designer for the House of Gucci. The pattern included 37 colors on a white background which highlighted flowers, berries and insects. Christian Dior designed a new silhouette known as the “New Look”. This look was a full tea length skirt, with a nipped waistline and a fitted bodice. She embraced this new found look and made it a fashion phenomenon.

Grace Kelly also was the Queen of minimalism and simplicity. She wore simple garments with grace and elegance. She was rarely seen in loud prints or bold colors. She knew how to make a simple dress look extraordinary with light accessories. Her favorite color was a pale yellow which she wore beautifully. Another look which Grace Kelly made famous was midis or tea length style dresses. She wore this type of skirt to many occasions. Whether it was a Pin Up- style pencil mini or full flouncy skirt she wore them with beauty and grace. Her influence for Midis or tea length ensembles is still popular in the modern day. Grace Kelly once said "I favor pearls on screen and in my private life." In all of pictures of Grace Kelly, the majority show her wearing pearls. Kelly found pearls to be a staple in an outfit. Without pearls the outfit was not complete. Pearls are still seen all throughout the fashion industry whether it be on the garment itself or as an accessory. Kelly had a very large part on this trend, people looked up to her and envied her elegant tasteful style.

Grace Kelly died on September 13th, 1982 due to a stroke. She remained in the public eye for most of her life. Her beauty on and off screen struck the media’s attention. Her simplistic and elegant styles live on within modern fashion. She is truly a global icon with her beauty, self-confidence and sophistication.

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