Friday, 2 March 2012

Grace Kelly's Wedding

Grace Kelly's Wedding  Dress

Another Grace Kelly related post! Faith's fantastic post about the Helen Rose designs for A Date with Judy at Lady Audley's Secret reminded me of some scans and images I've collected of Grace Kelly's wedding dress. It was was also designed by Helen Rose, one of my favourite costume designers, so I thought I'd share them.

Helen Rose designed for Grace Kelly in three of her films - Mogambo, The Swan and High Society. Edith Head, because of her friendship with Grace and their collaboration on several of Grace's film, such as To Catch a Thief and Rear Window, assumed that she would design the dress, however, Helen Rose was chosen and the wedding dress was made as a gift to Grace by MGM. I think the reason Rose was chosen over Edith Head is in no small part due to her design for Elizabeth Taylor both her wedding dress in Father of the Bride (which she co-designed with Walter Plunkett), and the dress for her first wedding to Nicky Hilton in 1950 (which I'll post about another time). It was, like Grace Kelly's dress, a gift to her from MGM. Linking the wedding with the studio, and using Helen Rose as the designer would raise publicity for High Society. Besides, Helen Rose was someone they knew could deliver. Her design for Elizabeth Taylor's dress was raved about at the time.

Elizabeth Taylor's Wedding Dress
Elizabeth Taylor's Wedding Dress

Grace Kelly had two engagement rings. The first was a temporary, or "friendship" ring of diamonds and rubies while the real one was being made. Her final ring was a 10.47 carat emerald-cut diamond set in platinum. I think it was made by Cartier. She wore it during the filming of High Society and can be seen in the film.

Grace Kelly's Engagement Rings
The top photo and the first on the bottom row shows her temporary ring, the last two show her final ring.

Grace Kelly Packing for her wedding
Here are some LIFE photos of Grace packing for her wedding and life in Monaco.
 I love these photos because they show her with her adored dog, Oliver. Below is a Cartier poodle brooch she owned.


As far as I can remember (because I've stupidly misplaced the book I have about her wedding dress and trousseau), I think Helen Rose made her engagement and civil ceremony outfits also.

Grace Kelly's Engagement Dress

The above photos show Grace at the public announcement of her engagement.
The dress was on display at the recent exhibition of Grace Kelly's clothes at the V&A.
It's made from a beautiful fabric in a colour which was a favourite of Grace's.

Grace Kelly examining part of her trousseau
Grace inspecting her trousseau. 

Before the official state wedding, there was a civil wedding ceremony. She wore a beautiful rose pink taffeta suit covered in Alencon lace designed by Helen Rose, white gloves, and a Juliet cap.

Grace Kelly's Civil Wedding Dress


Now, the Mass wedding dress is probably my favourite wedding dress of all time. It's timeless, conservative and elegant and suited Grace perfectly. It was the most expensive dress Helen Rose ever made, being valued at more than $7,200 at the time. It took 36 seamstresses 6 weeks to make in secret.

The dress was an ivory, high-necked, long-sleeved gown with a bodice with an attached under bodice and skirt support. There were two petticoats, one being an attached foundation. The fitted bodice was overlaid with 125 year old rose print Brussels lace which was embroidered with seed pearls. The bell skirt was made of silk taffeta, peau de soie, tulle and lace. The circular veil was made of 90 years of tulle, highlighted with seed pearls and lace, and fixed to a small fitted headpiece. 25 yards of silk taffeta and 100 yards of silk net were used in the construction of the dress. The wedding attire also included a lace and pearl encrusted prayer book which she carried down the aisle. After the ceremony, Grace donated the gown to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Under her wedding gown, Grace's petticoats had tiny blue satin bows.

The book she carried during the cermony was Bride's Manual: A Manual of Catholic Devotion with Mass for the Marriage Ceremony and the Nuptial Blessing which was covered and decorated to match the dress by the MGM wardrobe studio.


Her hair was styled by Sydney Guilaroff, one of Marilyn Monroe's favourite hairdressers and worked with Greta Garbo, Greer Garson, Judy Garland (he styled her hair for The Wizard of Oz), Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Hedy Lamarr, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Lena Horne, Debbie Reynolds, Kathryn Grayson, Ann-Margret among others.

Helen Rose's design for Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress
Here is the original design for the wedding dress, and photo of the designer, Helen Rose, working on Grace's mannequin.

Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress


Grace Kelly's Wedding  Dress

Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress
Joseph Hong of Neiman Marcus designed the bridesmaids' dresses, and Priscilla of Boston made them.
 They were made of yellow silk organdy in a shade called sunlight, which was worn over a yellow silk taffeta underdress.

Grace Kelly's Wedding  Dress
The shoes were designed by David Evins of New York.
A copper penny was built into the right shoe for good luck.


I hope you enjoyed this dress fest as much as I did in compiling it. I really recommend the books, Grace Kelly Icon of Style to Royal Bride, and Grace Kelly Style, which accompanied the V&A exhibition. Many thanks to the excellent resource and tribute to Grace - Grace Kelly Online, they have pages and trivia about the wedding. Also this post at Disco Nap for some photos.

My Mum is a bit poorly at the moment with respiratory problems so I'm not sure if and when I'll be able to post again for the next week or so, depending on how she is. 

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