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A Grace Kelly Costume Exhibit in Montreal

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Courtesy of Montreal’s McCord Museum

With the exception of Audrey Hepburn and perhaps Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, few style icons were as effortlessly glamorous as Grace Kelly. “She seemed to lead a charmed life,” says Cynthia Cooper, curator of “From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly—Beyond the Icon,” on view at the McCord Museum in Montreal through October 6. “She grew up in a wealthy family, she was an Oscar-winning actress, she married a prince. But there is another side to her. She was down-to-earth, and she worked hard as an actress.”

That other side is what Cooper hopes shines through in the exhibit, which features roughly 100 objects, archives, love letters, notes, photos and film clips. The museum also highlights approximately 40 of Kelly’s garments on loan from the Palace of Monaco. Cooper, a costume historian, is particularly enthused to bring Kelly’s legacy to life through clothing. Notable articles include the peach-colored dress she donned during the famous convertible scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955) (Kelly made 11 films in her five-year career), and the modest taffeta-and-Alençon-lace frock she wore during her civil wedding ceremony in 1956 to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. (They are pictured here at their religious ceremony.) 

“Our exhibit tries to show what is behind her life as an icon and let the public know who she was,” Cooper says. “We know her as someone who loved her clothes, shopped for things she liked and that suited her and wore them again and again. The ideal femininity of the 1950s suited her to a T.” Through October 6; 690 Sherbrooke St. W.; 514-398-7100; mccord-museum.qc.ca.

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