From Hollywood to Monaco: Grace Kelly, a life in 10 objects!

From Hollywood to Monaco: Grace Kelly, a life in 10 objects!

By: Renato Drummond Tapioca Neto


A film industry icon, Grace Kelly made her mark in the 1950s for her starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock's films and for her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, an event which was televised to over 30 million people. Like many actresses of her generation, she had her face printed on several posters and starred in several campaigns, although she was considered a shy woman who did not like to have her personal life exposed. Having given up the stage to become a royalty, Grace Kelly dedicated her life to philanthropic activities, even founding her own NGO, AMADE Mondiale, for the protection of children. Deceased in a tragic accident in 1982, Grace's memory lives on to this day. Girls all over the world are named after her and designers continue to reinvent pieces from her wardrobe that have become synonymous with beauty and elegance. Here, we have selected 10 objects and images that tell a little of the story of one of the most famous women of the 20th century.



Born on 12 November 1929 in Philadelphia, Grace Patricia Kelly was the daughter of famed rowing athlete John B. Kelly and physical education teacher Margaret Katherine Majer, the first woman to coach women's athletics at the University of Pennsylvania. As a child, Grace was considered a shy and rather sensitive girl, despite her three brothers, who possessed the same inclinations as their parents for athletics. "I spent my childhood trying to get close to my father and my older sister, Peggy," the future actress told her friend and biographer, Donald Spoto. During her formative years, Grace did everything she could to gain her family's approval. She was not considered a model student and when she decided to be an actress, she did not have the support of her parents. So it was that the tall, blonde, graceful girl gave up her allowance and went to study performing arts at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. To support herself, she did some modeling jobs. She was an ambitious, applied and persevering woman, Grace said that "there was no phase in my life when I didn't have many insecurities" and that "I had to make my decisions. Otherwise, others would take care of my life".



Grace Kelly began acting at the age of 19, starring in a play on Broadway. Her work caught the attention of television producer Delbert Mann, who invited her to participate in an adaptation for a live TV show. At 23, she starred in her first feature film, High Noon, in which she played a Quaker in a Wild West setting. Unfortunately, her acting did not receive much praise, so she had to go to New York to take private lessons and perfect her technique. In 1952, Grace signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in which she would receive a salary of $850 a week. Later that same year, she was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in Mogambo. Her career ascended as she was invited to participate in successful productions such as Dial M To Kill (1954), Rear Window (1954) and The Casque Thief (1955) by legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock. But it was with George Seaton's Love and Suffer (1954) that Grace Kelly finally won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1955.



In 1955, the actress was chosen to represent the United States at the Cannes Film Festival. Although she had a lot of commitments, she met Rainier Grimaldi III of Monaco on this occasion, fulfilling a request from the prince to do a photo shoot with him. At the time, Grace was only 24 years old and already considered one of the biggest names in the film industry. The two began a discreet exchange of correspondence that soon evolved into an affair, which lasted for a period of about a year. "When we fell in love, Rainier was already my great friend," the actress said. The prince then asked her to marry him and, as a gift, gave her several pieces of jewellery, including a three-turn pearl necklace secured by diamond rings. To match, a bracelet of the same design, a pair of earrings and a ring. Pearls were among Grace's favourite jewellery, who once said that "I'm all for pearls on screen and in my private life" and that "a woman needs strings and strings of pearls".



During the year between Grace Kelly's meeting with Prince Rainier and their marriage, they exchanged several passionate letters. In one of them, written in New York in 1956, Rainier said: "My dearest, this is to tell you in a very gentle way how much I love you, miss you, need you and want you near me always. Safe journey, my love. Rest, relax and think of me, burning with this terrible desire for you. I love you so much." Shortly after Rainier wrote these ardent words, Grace travelled to the principality of Monaco, where the wedding was to take place.



Grace Kelly and Rainier III were married on 18 April 1956, during a ceremony held at St. Nicolas Cathedral in Monaco. The bride's family paid $2 million to organise the event, which was televised to over 30 million people worldwide and caused a real frisson at the time. From then on, Grace became the Most Serene Princess Grace Kelly Grimaldi. The detail that most drew attention in the ceremony, however, was the dress worn by the bride. Designed by Helen Rose, it was made with the help of 36 people. The piece was completed in six weeks and has become the inspiration for many brides everywhere, including Kate Middleton, who in 2011 married Prince William of the United Kingdom wearing a dress very similar to that of the Princess of Monaco. Grace and Rainier had three children: Caroline, Albert, who is currently the Prince of Monaco, and Stéphanie.



As well as becoming a film icon, Grace Kelly was certainly at the forefront of the fashion of her time. She set trends that to this day are referenced by designers around the world, beyond the wedding dress. Grace was known for combining elegance and glamour without giving up a hint of classicism, which made her irresistible to fashion critics. In her wardrobe could be found pieces designed by names like Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy, Dior, Oleg Cassini and Balenciaga. In the year 2013, an exhibition entitled "From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly - beyond icon" opened, containing film clips, archived documents, photographs, awards and pieces from her personal and theatrical wardrobe. One of the ensembles on display was the famous green Givenchy dress, with matching tie belt and sleeved bolero.



Another fashion trend launched by Grace Kelly that has survived time and seasons is the use of the square Hermes bag, now known as the Kelly Bag. The princess wore them with an elegant combination of shoes, hats and gloves. The style became popular throughout the second half of the 20th century, and was even reproduced on Barbie dolls and other similar dolls. Nowadays, the price of a Kelly Bag may vary according to the colour and accessories applied to the lining. The most expensive models cost up to 20,000 dollars and are considered true luxury items.



One of the most prominent pieces in the exhibition "From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly - beyond icon", was the white boudoir robe that the actress wore in the musical comedy High Society (1956). The exhibition was organised with the support of Grace's children, who even lent her romantic letters exchanged between her and Prince Rainier, as well as her personal correspondence with other celebrities, such as Alfred Hitchcock and actor Bing Crosby. After her marriage, the princess was deprived of one of her favourite activities: acting. Hitchcock even invited her again to play the leading role in the film Marine - Confessions of a Thief. Although initially inclined to accept the offer, the royal family of Monaco deemed it inappropriate for their princess to continue to insist on an acting career and Grace declined the offer. In 1977, director Herbert Ross offered her a role in the film The Big Decision. This time, as with the previous one, Rainier was against his wife's participation in the feature film. After that, Grace would only do minor, short-lived work, usually commissioned by the principality of Monaco.



One of the most famous pieces of jewellery in Princess Grace of Monaco's collection consists of a tiara designed by Cartier, better known as the Tiara Bains de Mer. The frame is crafted in platinum and gold, encrusted with three round rubies crowned by white diamonds, arranged in a floral pattern. In addition, the jewel can also be worn as a necklace, with the three ruby pieces being able to be removed and worn separately as if they were brooches. Rainier later gifted Grace a pair of ruby and diamond earrings, as well as a ring, designed by Van Cleef & Arpels, to complete the set. Throughout her life, Grace Kelly amassed an impressive collection of jewellery.



Another famous item in the princess's jewellery collection is the sapphire and diamond brooch, worn by her on many occasions. Better known as the Daisy Brooch, the piece was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels and has a pattern very similar to the one Prince Albert gave to Queen Victoria as a wedding gift in 1840. Grace Kelly spent her later years devoting herself to philanthropic activities, raising children and fulfilling her duties as Princess of Monaco. In September 1982, while driving a car with her daughter Stéphanie by her side, Grace suffered a stroke and lost control of the car, which fell down a 37-metre mountainside. Rushed to hospital with serious fractures, the princess did not resist and fell into a coma. The following day, her husband asked that the devices that were keeping her in a vegetative state be turned off. Thus died one of the greatest icons of the 1950s.



LEFFERTS, Brooke. Princess Grace exhibit highlights icon's personal style, private royal life. - Accessed 14 May 2020.

OSHIMA, Flavia Yuri. Grace Kelly: born to reign. - Accessed on 14 May 2020.

TORTAMANO, Caio. From Hollywood to royalty: the troubled life of Grace Kelly, who became princess of Monaco. - Accessed on 14 May 2020.

From Hollywood to Monaco: Grace Kelly, a life in 10 objects!

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