This season, designers pay tribute to the enigmatic glamour of Grace Kelly. By Justine Picardie.
hat comes to mind when you think nk of Grace Kelly? elly? Is it the sensual sophistication cation that defines her starring roles in Hitchcock’s hcock’s Rear Window and To Catch A Thief, ief or the more static elegance of her r persona as princess and consort to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco? Do you see her as a triumph or tragedy; an emblem of feminine perfection or of surrendered independence? For Hitchcock, she was “a snowcovered volcano”; to John Ford, her director in Mogambo, a “dame [with] breeding, quality, class”.
Whatever one’s view, it is likely to be inconclusive, for Kelly was a film star as elusive and enigmatic as Greta Garbo; a cipher who slips from our grasp, however hard we may y seek to capture her.
All of which is worth bearing in mind this season, as fashion – and Hollywood, too – turns again towards wards Kelly for inspiration. While Nicole Kidman is filming a biopic that examines amines the confines of her life as a princess (a a version of events disputed by the current generation neration of Monaco royals), Kelly’s cinematic ic ghost is perceptible in the latest collections ns from Prada, Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, and d others. The Prada show, in particular, seemed emed to evoke Kelly as Hitchcock heroine, with an atmospheric projection as the backdrop to the catwalk, featuring swirling flocks of birds, a black cat, and the dark shadow of a woman silhouetted in a doorway.
If Miuccia Prada suggested the possibilities of fashion as a cinematic narrative (“Stories of women and life,” she said), Raf Simons took Dior’s Cruise collection to Monaco in May, and staged an equally dramatic show. As a location, it was a considered reminder of Christian Dior’s historic connection with Princess Grace, the consummate model for the house’s supremely poised couture. But Simons avoided the trap of costume drama by adding a modern fluidity of movement to Dior’s legacy of refined, controlled tailoring.
Could this sartorial balancing act between freedom and constraint provide a clue as to why Kelly continues to grip our imaginations? Perhaps in contemplating her radiance that still shines on-screen, 31 years after her untimely death in a car crash (on the very same corniche on which Hitchcock had filmed Kelly in To Catch A Thief), one cannot help but ask what lies beneath the surface of such exceptional beauty. Desire, yearning, fragility, frustration – the turbulent heart of a woman at odds with the cool veneer of a star ...
Bottega Veneta Autumn/ Winter ’13 Lanvin Autumn/ Winter ’13 Prada Autumn/ Winter ’13
Grace Kelly in Rear Window