So synonymous with elegance is the name Grace Kelly that an exhibition of her gowns really sells itself. And so many will make the trip to the Bendigo Art gallery between now and June to take in the diamonds, the ball gowns, the icon, without worrying about any foreknowledge of what it is they’re headed to.
Grace Kelly: Style Icon is as the name suggests; an exploration of Grace Kelly’s style. The exhibition spans several rooms, as well as Kelly’s changing role from Oscar-winning actress to fairytale Princess.
The presentation of the exhibit leaves a little (actually, make that a lot) to be desired – especially the dim lighting which diminishes the experience considerably, and leaves you cramming in towards the glass squinting to read the captions while simultaneously trying to manoeuvre around your own shadow. That aside, though, you can take away an interesting sense of how Grace Kelly’s style evolved over the decades yet still retained its unparalleled sense of understated glamour and elegance. From the prom silhouettes of the ’50s to the creeping above-knee hemlines of the 1960s – embodied in a recognisable Mondrian print YSL dress – to the sweeping maxi dresses of the ’70s, many by Grace’s favoured Marc Bohan for Dior: these are designer gowns that would all easily make a comeback today.
The second big takeaway is just how much the old adage of it’s not what you wear but how you wear it is earth-shatteringly true in light of the Grace Kelly example. Aforementioned designer gowns aside, there were a number of pieces behind glass that were entirely drab to look at (a plain, heavy skirt suit for example) or at the other end of the scale ridiculously childish looking – so overwhelmed by large bows and frills were they. But in photographs of the iconic Grace wearing these self-same pieces they were not drab, or ridiculous, or childish at all; such was her poise that these outfits, too, became great.
If you wish to take in for yourself a tour of the evolving style of Grace Kelly, albeit a dimly lit one, you can head to the Bendigo Art Gallery between now and June 17, 2012. For more information visit bendigoartgallery.com.au.