On 19 April 1956, American actress and hollywood star Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco at the St. Nicholas Cathedral, but her marriage actually involved two separate functions, the first, a civil marriage the day before and the second, the religious marriage, held on 19 April 1956, and thus Grace Kelly has worn two separate outfits for the two ceremonies.
No.1: Wedding dresses for the civil ceremony
For the civil ceremony, which was held at the baroque throne room of the palace on 18 April 1956, Grace Kelly wore a pale pink ensemble made of taffeta, covered by cream-colored Alençon lace, designed as a "fitted bodice with high rounded collar and a flared skirt". She accessorized the outfit with kid gloves and the Juliet cap.
The dress was designed by Helen Rose(1904 - 1985), a costume designer in the wardrobe department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
After the ceremony, Grace Kelly donned another tea-length ensemble to accept wedding congratulations at a quick press conference.
Later that night, she slipped into a white silk Lanvin gown at a gala.
No. 2: wedding dress for religious ceremony
Like her wedding dress for the civil ceremony, Grace Kelly's wedding dress for the religious ceremony was also designed by Helen Rose and made by the wardrobe department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The dress was a high-necked, long-sleeved gown hand made by 35 seamstresses, which consisted of a bodice with slip, an attached under-bodice and skirt support. Seamstresses re-embroidered the antique Brussels lace on her bodice to hide any seams and add hundreds of seed pearls.
There were three petticoats:the ruffled, the smoothing and the foundation petticoat, which all went under the pleated silk faille skirt.
In addition to the skirt made of ivory faille (a type of taffeta), 100 yards of silk net also went into the gown. Finally, a train insert and silk faille cummerbund completed the outfit.
Her whole wedding attire included a headdress, veil, shoes and the lace and pearl-encrusted prayer book which she carried down the aisle.
Grace Kelly's veil was specially designed to keep her face as visible as possible to the 600 guests and estimated 30 million viewers watching from afar. Appliqued lace motifs around the edges included two tiny lovebirds.
Instead of an elaborate tiara, Kelly opted for a Juliet cap to hold her veil in place. The headpiece included more pearls and lace, as well as a wreath of paper orange blossoms.
And as Prince Rainier III, her future husband already stood close in height to her, Grace Kelly wore just 2½-inch heels. David Evins designed the pumps, adding seed pearls and lace. He embossed her name in the left shoe and his own in the right shoe, where he also added a copper penny for good luck.
Devout mid-20th century brides often carried a Bible instead of lots of flowers, according to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the current home of Kelly's bridal outfit. The actress received her book as a gift, and MGM then embellished it with silk, lace and pearls. Kelly carried both the missal and a small bunch of lilies of the valley on the big day.
Grace Kelly worked closely with Helen Rose to come up with the design for the dress, and the two women looked to costumes in the MGM archives for inspiration. A wedding dress from the MGM film Invitation is particularly similar to Grace's dress. The dress materials included "twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Brussels rose point lace."
Made in United States, North and Central America
Silk needle lace (rose point), silk faille, silk tulle, and seed pearls
Costume and Textiles
Object Location:Currently not on view
Gift of Her Serene Highness, the Princesse Grace de Monaco, 1956
From the crownlike wreath topping the headpiece to the bows down the back of the graceful train, Grace Kelly's wedding ensemble is simple but exquisitely detailed. Delicate rose point lace, a type of nineteenth-century Brussels needle lace that features elaborate floral motifs, forms the bodice, which appears seamless because the lace motifs were detached from their original ground and pieced together to follow the shaping of the dress. Touches of the lace, accented with lustrous seed pearls, unify the gown and accessories. The dress itself is constructed in four complex parts: the lace bodice with an attached underbodice, skirt support, and slip; a heavily pleated silk faille skirt that incorporates a smoothing petticoat, ruffled petticoat, and foundation petticoat; a triangular tulle and lace train insert; and a pleated silk faille cummerbund.
The wedding dress of Grace Kelly, is cited as one of the most elegant and best-remembered bridal gowns of all time, and one of the most famous since the mid 20th century. One author describes the dress as a symbol of "the marital fervor" and a major influence on women who strove to "emulate Kelly's peau de soie and lace masterpiece".
Some 50 years on, the dress is still influential; the wedding dress that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wore on 29 April 2011 was said to have been inspired by it.
And in 2017, when Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr planned to marry her her fiancé Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapshot, she has Maria Grazia Chiuri, the artistic director of Christian Dior to design her wedding gown, and her inspiration? The wedding gown worn by Grace Kelly on the day of the religious ceremony.
Miranda Kerr: “I’ve had a lot of fun with fashion, and I used to be more wild, free, bohemian. But in this period of my life, my style is more pulled back. My greatest sources of inspiration have always been Grace, Audrey Hepburn, and my grandmother, who at 80 has an effortless chic: a nice pant, a white blouse, a scarf, a little heel.”