Grace Kelly, story of the wedding dress (and who made it)

Grace Kelly’s wedding dress was created by the famous Hollywood costume designer, Helen Rose (two-time Oscar winner). The garment characterized by “lace bodice, long sleeves and wide skirt” is the maximum expression of bridal fashion launched on the “silver screen” by a group of American costume designers …

The story of Grace Kelly and her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco has all the knowledge of one modern fairy tale. The meeting was on the Croisette in 1955, but the official engagement was announced on January 5, 1956. The last film that runs is High Society, the remake of a 1940 film: the actress, Hitchcock’s icy muse and linked for seven years to Metro-Goldwin-Mayer (MGM Studios), is among the critics’ favorites and at the peak of success. It will be a sad and painful divorce from Hollywood. And to show esteem and affection for Grace Kelly, here the production company with the roaring lion makes her one of the most beautiful gifts: the wedding dress.

The garment is made by one of the most important costume designers in Hollywood, Helen Rose, which together with Edith Head and Irene Sharaff deeply marks the glamor of the American divas. Her creations are worn by Deborah Kerr, Lauren Bacall, Liz Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Esther Williams and Grace Kelly (to name a few).

Helen Rose entered the costume department of MGM Studios in 1943, with a diploma in her pocket from the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, after some experience in theater and at Twentieth Century Fox. For its mastery in working the most delicate fabrics, it is called the “Chiffon lady“.

Helen Rose, before making the dress for the future Princess, designed well two wedding dresses for Liz Taylorboth in 1950: the first for the film The Father of the Bride and the second for her wedding with Conrad “Nicky” Hilton Jr. The two looks are very similar: wide skirt, long sleeves, collar and important neckline, one covered by lace the other by tulle.

Liz Taylor in The Father of the Bride (1950)

© API

Marriage of Liz Taylor and Conrad “Nicky” Hilton Jr.

© Frank Worth, Courtesy of Capital Art

In 1953 the costume designer is engaged with Lucille Ball’s wardrobe for Twelve Meters of Love: for the actress she designs a wedding dress with a voluminous skirt with a macramé lace bodice and a Korean collar. The Americans begin to dream about that garment, which became a cult after the comedy by Vincente Minnelli.

Lucille Ball in Twelve Meters of Love (1953)

© Archive Photos

From America to the Principality of Monaco it is a moment: Helen Rose is the costume designer chosen to pay homage to the beautiful Grace Kelly on her wedding day. For her he makes two heads, one for the civil ceremony and the other for the religious one. The models enhance his elegance and refinement, with much discretion. Qualities that are suitable for a Princess.

The costume designer is faithful to her style, already famous on the big screen. In addition, Grace Kelly has already met the seamstress on the set of High Society, the last film that shot the actress. In fact, the wedding dress that he will wear for the wedding with the Prince of Rainier, the one that will go down in history, is precisely the reworking of a garment worn on the set. In detail, it is an ivory-colored double dress with contrasting embroidered flowers.

Grace Kelly in High Society, 1956

© Archive Photos

The wedding dress she wears on religious wedding day is what we all know and has required the creativity of Helen Rose, as well as the help of 35 seamstresses and 6 weeks to pack it.

They have been used to make it 24 meters of silk taffeta, as many by gros de longre and 270 meters of fine Valenciennes lace. The model is cut at the waist with a band: double skirt and a light train, and a double bodice. The lace sleeves, Korean collar and the numerous central buttons stand out. Grace Kelly completes the wedding dress with the veil of silk tulle edged with lace, which descends from the cap embroidered with beads.

Marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco, 1956

© Joseph McKeown

The model is simple and reflects the American fashion of the time: for this the local press will define it “Regal but not superb “. With a greater spirit of criticism we can say that it has profoundly marked bridal fashion in the 50s and today. True Kate?

Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, 2011

© Chris Jackson

See also:

Wedding dresses: the most beautiful bridal looks seen in the cinema

Audrey Hepburn: the story of the wedding dress that never came to the wedding

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