Icon of the Week: Grace Kelly

All this recent talk about Kate Middleton and the possibility of finally seeing the new addition to her family (rumors are July 13) only makes me think of past royal pregnancies and how similarly they all kept the details of their pregnancy ambiguous. Not only that, but how curious it is that royals like her, Princess Diana and Grace Kelly, each known to be fashion icons, used clothing as a means to express an air of joy and humbleness around the new royal babies. Of the three, Grace Kelly is most notable for even creating a trend during her pregnancy—the “Kelly Bag”, which has defined her sense of fashion and strengthened her charm and sensibility. A look into her life reveals a powerful and talented woman behind an iconic style that will be remembered forever.

Grace Kelly was born in Philadelphia, November 12, 1929. Her father, Jack Kelly, was a triple Olympic gold medal winner in rowing and rose to prominence through his construction enterprise and nomination for mayor. President Roosevelt named him National Director of Physical Fitness while her mother was head of Physical Fitness at the University of Pennsylvania. Grace was named after a sister of Jack who had died at a young age. Apart from that special connection in her family, she had several uncles in the arts (one a Vaudeville star with a Paramount feature, another a Pulitzer Prize winning screenwriter and director) who likely had an influence in her passion for the arts.

She attended Ravenhill Academy, a prestigious Catholic girls’ school, where she modeled fashions and became a lead in plays at only the age of 12. Her interest in theatre rose in high school, acting and dancing in more plays. Her yearbook stated her to become “a famous star of stage and screen”. Little did people know, this would actually become a reality. When she was rejected admission to Bennington College for low math scores, she decided to go for her real passion and pursue theatre in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She made her Broadway debut in Strindberg’s The Father and played Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story for her graduation performance at only age 19. While on set for one of 60 live television programs for Sinclair Lewis, she was noticed by Gary Cooper who admired how different she was from other actresses at the time. This led her to star in her first major motion picture with Gary Cooper in High Noon. From here on, she participated in several critically acclaimed films like Mogambo, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and High Society for which she was nominated Academy Award Best Supporting Actress, Academy Award Best Actress, and received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

While at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955, she was invited for a photo session at the Palace of Monaco with Prince Rainier III. Initially upon meeting him, she was romantically linked to actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. After returning to the U.S. to participate in the film The Swan (where she portrayed a Princess!), Prince Rainier came to tour where rumors were that he was seeking a wife. After meeting Kelly again and her family, he proposed after three days and preparations for the “Wedding of the Century” begun. With the wedding and new status as Princess of Monaco, her theatre life began to come to a close and all attention was put on her.

Now off screen, Grace possessed her natural state of elegance daily wearing casual yet sophisticated clothing. She was known to be effortlessly put-together in twinsets, a good coat, wayfarers and of course, her Hermes bag. Her sense of fashion was very prim and attention to detail like no other. Her hair was always in a soft wave, accompanied by a scarf or pearls and a lovely set of gloves. Without a doubt, Princess Grace was the epitome of class and arguably the most graceful and iconic of all.

— Alinnette Hernandez



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