Grace Kelly's wedding dress, designed by Helen Rose and made by the wardrobe department of MGM. It has rose point lace, silk faille, seed pearls, and silk tulle.A replica of Grace Kelly's wedding dress, on display in the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, which will be part of the TIFF exhibit.
Grace Kelly has been dead for almost three decades, but next fall she will be making a splash in Toronto, the Star has learned.
TIFF Bell Lightbox has secured the exclusive North American engagement of Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess, which will run from Nov. 4 to Jan. 22, 2012. An official announcement is expected this week.
The exhibit will feature rarely displayed gowns and artifacts from the palace in Monaco where she married Prince Rainier III in 1956. It includes a replica of her famous wedding dress, a gift from Hollywood studio MGM designed by costume diva Helen Rose.
The opening of the show will provide another chapter to what has become a year of royal wedding mania. Following the global hoopla over the marriage of William and Kate, Grace Kelly’s only son, Prince Albert II, ended his long bachelorhood at age 53 last weekend by exchanging vows with Princess Charlene, in the Monaco Palace where his parents were married 55 years earlier. For the first time since the 1982 death of Princess Grace at age 52 in a car crash on the Cote d’Azur, Monaco once more has a princess. Albert has reigned since the death of his father in 2005.
The Lightbox show is based on two recent shows that caused a stir across the Atlantic. The first was the Grimaldi Forum’s 2007 exhibition in Monaco called The Grace Kelly Years. A 2010 show — Grace Kelly: Style Icon — drew huge crowds to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Conspicuously missing from the V&A exhibit was the bride’s famous high-neck dress. It featured an antique Valenciennes rose point lace, silk taffeta and tulle, and the veil had thousands of seed pearls. The outfit took 35 craft artists in the MGM wardrobe department six weeks to make.
The legendary gown is owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which keeps it in storage. But TIFF has scored a coup by nabbing a replica made by the Monaco palace in 2007. As well, the Lightbox show will feature wedding photographs from the Philadelphia Museum.
In the Lightbox version of the show, famous outfits will be supplemented by screenings of Alfred Hitchcock movies starring Kelly and other icy blonds.
The exhibition will include her Van Cleef Arpels tiara, the Oscar she won in 1955 for The Country Girl, letters from Hitchcock, telegrams from Prince Rainier, bits of childhood scrapbooks and school yearbooks. Most intriguing could be the home movies she made, shot on Super-8, showcasing friends and family.
As for that famous wedding dress, well, the original was given to the museum in Philadelphia, where Kelly grew up in a wealthy and socially prominent family rather like the one from which sprang Tracy Lord, the character Kelly played in High Society. Indeed, the 1956 Cole Porter musical (in which her co-stars were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong) was based on a popular 1930s play entitled The Philadelphia Story.
According to Kristina Haugland, a senior curator at the Philadelphia museum, the dress was on display for more than 20 years before it became clear it was extremely fragile and needed to be protected from excessive exposure. That’s why it is brought only for special occasions, notably a heavily attended exhibition in 2006 marking the 50th anniversary of the wedding.
But to get to the heart of the Grace Kelly magic, one must move beyond clothes and artifacts and watch her on the big screen. She made only 11 films and, in a way, her 1950s Hollywood career represented the only period of her life when she was free to be herself.
During her early years, by all accounts, she was restricted by the tight rules of high society in an aristocratic Philly family. And for the last quarter-century of her life, she had to play by the rules set for a European princess. Her husband made it illegal for movies starring Kelly to be shown in Monaco.
But when you see her win the hearts of James Stewart in Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, you will begin to understand why Kelly, with her unique blend of gorgeously cool style and concealed emotional hunger, had the power to seduce the entire world. Maybe that’s what the Prince was afraid of.