20th Century Princess Turns 21st Century Influencer
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
“Fairy tales tell imaginary stories. Me, I'm a living person. I exist. If the story of my life as a real women were to be told one day, people would at last discover the real being that I am” - Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco
Hollywood Star. Fashion Icon. America’s Princess.
Grace Kelly remarkably embodied each of these lofty attributes, and yet, remained a beautiful down to earth woman known for her humility, philanthropy and effortless grace. Both as an icon and a human, she is someone who we aspire to emulate and who inspires us daily.
On the silver screen, Grace Kelly oozes with elegant aloofness and confidence. Few knew, however, of her struggle to overcome shyness and her blatant disregard for 1950s Hollywood beauty standards. As a young woman, Grace was dubbed average and often faded into the background; she was uninterested in the competitive sports that were highly regarded by Her family of accomplished athletes, including an Olympic Gold Medalist. Instead, Her safe-haven was found on the stage where she discovered Her lifelong love for acting. Thankfully, Her Pulitzer Prize-winning Uncle George Kelly encouraged Her to pursue artistic endeavors and supported Her dreams of the stage. And like most artists, along Her journey, she was no stranger to failure. For five years, Grace worked on part-time modeling jobs that she Herself claimed she had no knack for; all the while facing numerous rejections in her attempts to make it on Broadway. Eventually she got Her big Broadway break in Strindberg's The Father and her star was officially on the rise! After that, Grace’s talent and beauty could not be ignored and pretty soon she was living out every aspiring actress’ dreams and was whisked away to Hollywood. But despite the fame, she struggled with shyness and the pressures of seemingly overnight becoming a Hollywood “it girl”. In Hollywood, she faced pressure to be more like the other stars of that era, sizzling seductress’ like Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe. And yet, despite the public pressures, She remained true to Her core values and was even known for wearing prim white gloves even as they no longer au currant. She would do things like showing up to auditions with hair up and glasses on. For the1950s, this was nothing short of a devil-may-care statement. Her desire to not use Her beauty and underlying sex appeal to get ahead, but rather to let Her talent speak for itself soon paid off.
Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, took an immediate liking to her “cool blonde” aesthetic and together they created some of her best films including Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief. Her co-stars were equally notable with household names like Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Bing Crosby. And in 1955, she won the ultimate accolade in film, the Academy Award for Best Actress in The Country Girl.
When it comes to Grace Kelly, it wasn’t just the screen that caught the public’s attention, it was also her timeless style.
Famous costume designers like Edith Head and Helen Rose clamored to work on set with Grace and luxury brands famously named iconic items after the Princess. Hermès officially renamed the Sac à dépêches to The Kelly Bag in 1973 and the Mark Cross “Rear Window Leather Overnight Case” became an instant sensation after her role in the film. she had become an influencer long before the word possessed its modern meaning, and embraced the most coveted brands of her time and ours ranging from Cartier to Hermès.
See Princess Grace carrying the #HermèsKellyBag below --
A Royal Romance
As a rising star in 1950s Hollywood, one would never have imagined that Grace Kelly would ever be tempted away from her lifelong passion and career. But in 1955 on a visit to the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival to promote, The Country Girl, Grace Kelly was fatefully introduced by Dame Olivia de Havilland’s second husband Pierre Galante to Europe’s most eligible bachelor – Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Grace and the Prince began corresponding and by January 1956, the couple was engaged to be married and Grace Kelly would leave Hollywood and become Princess of Monaco.
On April 18, 1956 Grace Patricia Kelly hopped the pond to the small but incredibly glamorous Principality in the South of France to marry into Monaco’s Royal Family giving up her prior life on the stage and screen for a new career as Princess of Monaco and a new journey into royalty, motherhood, philanthropy and this time doing so on a global stage. She “brought arts and culture to Monaco while also quietly supporting countless American performing and film artists” 1. In her new role as Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, she also was a patron for the Red Cross, Rainbow Coalition Children, and hosted an annual Christmas celebration for orphaned children in Monaco 2. Her philanthropic nature is forever cemented into her legacy. That legacy today is in the form of The Princess Grace Foundation-USA, established in 1982, #PGFUSA has carried on the legacy of Princess Grace [Kelly] of Monaco by supporting emerging artists in theater, dance and film. It was lovingly started by her husband Prince Rainier III and co-founded by her former co-stars Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and Frank Sinatra.
Princess Grace’s timeless aesthetic, captured the attention of so many in the 20th century, and it is exactly what inspires us today.
Part of her talent was her ability to strike the perfect balance of “normal stylish woman”with glamorous ball gown looks. She is the epitome of American fashion: luxury with the right hint of modern vintage. And while she was most often photographed in formal wear, Grace’s off-duty wardrobe equally stole the hearts of everyday working women. She had an affinity for Pringle twinsets, high waisted shorts and trousers,
midi skirts, and even donned a leopard-print one piece. In her free time, Princess Grace preferred comfort and chicness, a classic and enduring combination. She set the precedence for the modern woman of how simple outfits can be easily elevated. As a Hollywood starlet and Princess, she was years before her time, stating “When Ava Gardner gets into a taxi, the driver knows at once she's Ava Gardner. It's the same for Lana Turner or Elizabeth Taylor, but not for me. I'm never Grace Kelly. I'm always someone who looks like Grace Kelly” 3 (Princess Grace).
In part due to her frequent laid-back attire, this aura of inconspicuousness was a part of her identity. Famed costume designer Edith Head stated “She wasn’t especially comfortable with superficiality” 4 and co-star Cary Grant described her as someone who“never distanced herself from others, and she was enormously friendly to everyone - no stuffy attitude, no star complex” 5. This authenticity translated perfectly to the brands she embraced. Instead of following popular trends, she pioneered her own, was sincere and honest in every production she starred in and every philanthropic endeavor she supported. Her infectious energy and spirit travelled from Hollywood and Broadway to Monaco. She was integral in popularizing the Principality as the glamorous tourist destination it is today and bringing the American lifestyle to France as a “royal mother” 6.
Princess Grace’s lifestyle perfectly lends itself to modern influencer society.
At Grace Influential, our mission is to amplify Princess Grace’s legacy by inspiring today’s generation through lifestyle, art, fashion, and philanthropy. We’re here to provide all things Princess Grace of Monaco, from how to shop like her, to the arts and culture she loved, and her generosity of heart. Simply put, you don’t have to be a princess to live like one.
Princess Grace Foundation-USA, Getty Images, Associated Press