To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the fairy tale wedding of Grace Kelly to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III, the Museum is presenting an exhibition focusing on Princess Grace’s wedding dress. Miss Kelly (1929–1982), the Philadelphia-born, Academy Award-winning actress, married the glamorous Prince Rainier III (1923–2005) on April 19, 1956, and the bride donated her famous dress to the Museum soon after the ceremony. This is the first time the gown has been on view since its appearance in the Museum’s 1997 survey of 250 years of fashion, Best Dressed: 250 Years of Style.
Helen Rose (American, 1904–1985), the Academy Award-winning designer who made the costumes for Miss Kelly’s films High Society and The Swan, was chosen to design the gown—a present to the bride from MGM Studios—which was made by MGM’s wardrobe department. The dress, created to complement the "fairy princess" beauty of the actress, features a bell-shaped skirt of ivory peau de soie supported by petticoats, and a high-necked bodice of Brussels lace, which was re-embroidered to render the seams invisible and then accented with seed pearls. Continuing the theme of pearl-embellished lace are the bride’s prayer book, shoes, headpiece, and circular silk net veil—designed so that Miss Kelly’s face could be seen—all of which is also on view.
The exhibition is supported by a generous gift from Carol Ware Gates in honor of Marian S. Ware. The accompanying publication is also supported by the Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Special Publications and The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
CuratorKristina Haugland • Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles