If you're lucky enough to be in London this summer, and you're a big fan of all things royal, and you consider yourself something of a fashionista, or even a film buff -- if I were you, I'd run-not-walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has on exhibition a retrospective of Grace Kelly's wardrobe.
Born in November, 1929, Kelly grew up near Philadelphia's mainline, a princess of privilege, although her charismatic and entrepreneurial father Jack, a bricklayer by trade, was quite the self-made man. She studied acting in NYC at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts on Madison Avenue, a conservatory that also produced the likes of Spencer Tracy, Robert Redford, and a starry-eyed kid who wasn't yet named Leslie Carroll.
First Broadway beckoned, then Hollywood, and the slender, blond, athletic golden girl, the quintessence of All-American beauty (although the fact [in the post WWII years] that her mother was German-born was either downplayed or suppressed by the media) became a film star by the time she was in her early 20s, winning an Academy Award for her leading role in "The Country Girl." At the age of twenty-six, believing that she'd done it all, and that the glamour of the silver screen would soon turn to tinsel (“Each year my makeup call is a lot earlier. And when I look at the other ladies who’ve been there since dawn, do I want to live like that? Get me out.”) she agreed to take time off from film promotion in Cannes to meet the thirty-one-year-old neighboring prince of Monaco, Rainier III.
The rest, as they say, is history: an archetypal fairy tale wedding (in truth funded by Jack Kelly and MGM; even her wedding gown, hair, and makeup was done by studio personnel), followed by three children and a jet-setting lifestyle in the ultimate gilded cage.
Grace Kelly's wedding suit (worn during her civil wedding, the day before the grand church wedding. Her formal wedding gown was deemed too fragile to travel to the V&A exhibit)
But of course, beneath the glittering surface all was not perfect -- and you can read the true story of the marriage of Grace and Rainier in my book, NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire.
Are you familiar with the life of Grace Kelly? What's your impression of her?