|Grace Kelly with Edith Head, 1955. © Rex Features|
I’m reading the book Grace Kelly Style by H. Kristina Haugland, the catalog that accompanied the exhibit Grace Kelly: Style Icon that was at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2010. Oh how I wish I could’ve seen this show! The book does a nice job of combining the main biographical facts of Kelly’s life and the contributions made to her iconic style by designers like Edith Head, Helen Rose, Oleg Cassini, and others, with the addition of fun little facts you might not turn up in a standard biography. To wit:
There’s a great picture in the book of Grace Kelly with Edith Head, the legendary Hollywood costume designer, who created the looks for two of Grace’s most famous roles: Lisa Fremont in Rear Window and Frances Stevens in To Catch a Thief.
Here’s what the caption says: “Paramount sent Edith Head on location for the filming of To Catch a Thief; en route, the costume designer and Grace Kelly went shopping in Paris, where the actress indulged her weakness for buying gloves at Hermès to such an extent that she had to send for more money.”
When I read this my first thought was, Come again? A weakness for buying gloves at Hermès? Had to send for more money? I love it! I feel the same way about their scarves as she did about their gloves (and I get the feeling she had a similar affinity for their silks too). For some reason I thought Grace didn’t start carrying her haut à courroies bag, which Hermès eventually renamed a Kelly in her honor, until after she married Prince Rainier III in 1956. But apparently she was already into Hermès before she even met him.
|Grace and Rainier (and her Kelly!) on the day they announced their engagement in 1956.|
|The same day. I love Rainier helping Grace and her bag out of the car! © Bettmann/Corbis|
How big was her Hermès collection? Did she have a closet full of it? I’m thinking maybe not (but will get back to you on this). The book says Grace didn’t actually buy that much in the way of clothes and she got a lot of use out of what she did own. I remember reading an online review of the Grace Kelly exhibit and the writer noted how well-used her Kelly was. There’s also this quote from Grace herself that she gave to a Saturday Evening Post journalist in 1960:
“I am not eager to give away my things just because they’re worn. I keep my things longer than most people.”
|From the book. Grace in 1958 with her man and her bag! © Rex Features|
So I’m thinking maybe she just had a small Hermès collection. As for her namesake bag I don’t know how many Kellys Grace owned but I do know I have seen pictures of her with at least 3—one a Retourne of brown leather (is this Box Calf or Barenia, any of you H babes who know better than me feel free to clarify), a Barenia leather and Toile version, and a white Kelly with a flat handle that I don’t think Hermès even makes anymore.
|Detail of a Howell Conant photo of Grace in Jamaica in 1967, using her white Kelly.|
In any event, Hermès or not, it’s nice to read that somebody who could’ve had anything, and lots of anything, bought a few nice things and then used them again and again and again, for the whole of her life.