“Few things are as lovely as the natural, delicate colors of a pressed flower arrangement. They capture the essence of the flower and age softens them to a lovely harmony.” – Princess Grace
In the early 1980s, thousands of homes were dressed in bed linens inspired by the pressed flower art of Princess Grace of Monaco. The hugely successful “GPK” (Grace Patricia Kelly) bed linen line was produced by the now-defunct Springmaid Company who had discovered the Princess' talent for dried floral arranging in a sold-out exhibition in a Paris Gallery.
A leader in the bed linen industry, Springmaid was among the first to introduce a couture line. Three of their hottest collections in the 1970s were the Bill Blass collection, the Guggenheim collection, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.
Neil Mandell, a newly-hired Springmaid stylist had seen the designs in a People magazine article on the exhibit and pitched them to the top brass. According to a New York Times article, Mandell's boss was skeptical because he didn’t believe that royals would endorse commercial products and felt strongly that they wouldn’t be able to reach Princess Grace to pitch Her the idea.
According to the Times, Mandell had already failed to impress with his first presentation for a line of sheets based on Barry Manilow lyrics—the new hire not knowing that his boss was not a Barry Manilow fan! Yet, he persisted and managed to get Princess Grace's personal phone number in Paris through old contacts in Her hometown of Philadelphia.
Eventually, Springmaid convinced Princess Grace to allow them to design three GPK floral patterns, Fiona, Celia, and Tamora, for bed linens, tablecloths, napkins, placemats, and more. The only caveat was that there could be no mention of Her royal title or any use of Her photo in promotional materials. The GPK line would be one of the earliest examples of celebrity-endorsed home goods.
In a news release in 1978, Princess Grace said,
“As an artist, I feel it is fulfilling to extend my art into practical and beautiful home furnishings. Through these designs, I hope to share with others the beauty that I've found in nature."
Springmaid ultimately released five patterns, and Princess Grace received more than $1 million in royalties, which She donated to Her favorite charities. When She died tragically in 1982, the Springmaid line was discontinued.
Today vintage linen collectors may occasionally discover pieces of the GPK line offered on the internet but it's a rare find. Many of the original purchasers have held on to their treasured “connection” to Princess Grace. The Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco is one place where visitors can view GPK floral napkins among other cherished personal items including Her collection of Irish books and Irish-American sheet music.
Her amazing floral designs can forever be admired in My Book of Flowers which she co-wrote with Gwen Robyns in 1980. The book can be purchased on Amazon and discloses the secrets of flower pressing and examines the portrayal of flowers throughout history in the arts.
This post was provided by Annette Ross Anderson. Annette is a partner and Marketing Manager at the iconic Monaco restaurant and sports bar, Stars'N'Bars. Over the last 30 years, she has hosted the Monaco multi-mix of royals, billionaires, celebrities, expats, university students, and yachtsmen that make up Monaco's diverse social universe. Annette also oversees the MonacoUSA Association, a social and business network in the principality. A trained journalist and business writer, she is currently working on a screenplay inspired by the legacy of Princess Grace.
Photo Credit: Albertis-window.com, 2009 C Fagerlin, princessgracekelly1956.tumblr