Good morning, you gorgeous lot. How was the weekend? Hope you’re not missing it too much and that I can help to ease you into the working week. Mondays on my blog are dedicated to those people who inspire me and who I would love to thank for this with a cake. Today’s subject is a true icon of style and the epitome of elegance.
Grace Kelly and I missed each other by only a matter of hours; as I was being born in a little maternity hospital in Cambridge, Princess Grace of Monaco was slipping away after a car accident the previous day.
I promise that this post will not be hideously morbid!
It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I discovered the films of Alfred Hitchcock and, through James Stewart’s cabin-fever in Rear Window, the vision that was Grace Kelly. She was effortless, gliding across the screen as if floating on air, her face lit as if it was luminescent from within. What a fascinating creature! I still want to be just like her when I grow up.
Of course, it wasn’t until around this time that my parents told me of this coincidence around my birth. My Mother’s recounting of the story is one that I have dined out on a few times. It goes like this…
I was born the day that Grace Kelly died. This was back in the olden days when new mothers were kept in hospital overnight or for a few days with their babies, even if everything was fine and dandy. There was a slight scare when I was born due to my terrible paleness, which the midwife mistook for coldness, rushing a knitted bobble hat onto my head, until they saw my Father (who is also very pale). Upon hearing this story as a teenager, I was immediately struck by two thoughts; firstly, I vowed to go out of this world in the same manner that I was brought into it – intoxicated, naked, and wearing a bobble hat – and I wondered if I could be cosmically tied to Grace Kelly in some way.
On one of the days that followed my birth, my Mother was ushered into the common room of the maternity hospital for some TV time. “Come along now. Princess Grace’s funeral is on the telly.” Imagine the scene as several new Mothers, along with their babies, are gathered to watch as this beautiful icon, a star of the silver screen who became a princess, laid to rest. I am told that this was all a bit emotional! For a few brief moments, my middle name was going to be Grace, until it was decided that this was probably in poor taste.
Logic would dictate that I was not the only baby born on that day – I dare say far from it! If I was linked to Grace Kelly by an accident of my birth, surely countless more would be too. Even scratching this notion from my thoughts, there still remains something about this genuine Hollywood royal that fascinates me.
I visited Monaco with my Mother in my early twenties. We paid pilgrimage to the cathedral where Princess Grace was married and now rests. I caught my heel in a grate in the grounds of the Palace, which we took as a sign that Prince Albert wanted to marry me!
So the lure and legend of Grace Kelly endures – for me, it is in her screen presence and her impeccable style. Never be fooled by the relative simplicity of her hairstyles! The ultimate Hitchcock blonde. Essential study for anyone with a love of 1950s fashion. The ‘rags to riches’ tale (Grace was born into affluence but that doesn’t fit the glamorous narrative here) of a Hollywood actress who marries a Prince and becomes a real life Princess. As I have grown up, the slight sadness behind this has become apparent, as her acting talents were pretty much squashed under her responsibility to the state. Countless roles had to be turned down as the Princess could not be seen playing any roles that would bring her real life role into disrepute – I believe that Hitchcock offered her the lead in Marnie but it was felt that she couldn’t be seen to be a kleptomaniac!
High Society was Grace Kelly’s last film – the engagement ring her character wears is her real life one, it’s real. What a way to leave us wanting more. Her silent performances in this film are as striking as her spoken and sung ones – she would have been a star at any time in Hollywood.
I would love to bake a cake for Grace Kelly, as the quiet stylish enigma that I wish I was cool enough to be. For playing just about the best screen-drunk ever. From one woman with about the most supportive Husband ever to one who (whether she wanted to or not) gave up her career for hers. I’d bake us something modest to go with a bottle or two of Champagne as I very much doubt that I could compete with her Wedding Cake!
Grace Kelly will continue to inspire generations of women who want to achieve her truly iconic style. She will forever remain my spirit animal and a sartorial standard to aspire to.