Today's post was written by FIDM Museum curator, Kevin Jones. In this post, Kevin describes the reason behind his recent trip to Australia.
Once in a while a curator has the privilege of traveling to another museum to install a garment that is being loaned to an exhibition. Generally, the borrowing institution is within driving distance. I just returned from such a trip last week and while I didn’t drive my car, I did go by bus…that is, by Qantas Airbus, the largest passenger plane in the world that can transport more than 500 people at a time. My destination was Bendigo, Australia, in the southeast province of Victoria, one and a half hours outside of Melbourne. The Bendigo Art Gallery just opened the exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon (11 March – 17 June 2012), which traveled nearly as far as I did, coming from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. An overview of the gallery and the exhibition can be read here.
View of the Bendigo Art Gallery
The FIDM Museum loaned one of its treasured Hollywood costumes to the V&A for their installation: an embroidered white mull gown worn by Grace Kelly (1929-1982) in the movie The Swan (1956) and designed by Helen Rose (1904-1985), who also designed Kelly's wedding gown. When the Bendigo Art Gallery scheduled the exhibition for a visit to Australia, curator Tansy Curtin asked the FIDM Museum to include our rare surviving costume from Hollywood’s Golden Age of the studio system.
Few Grace Kelly costumes survive, and the FIDM Museum’s is particularly interesting as movie stills of Kelly wearing the gown were incorporated into an “official” wedding portrait of her with Prince Rainier III (1923-2005), as seen on the cover of a special Royal Wedding edition of the magazine Point de Vue.
MGM Studios even held the release of the film, completed the year before, to coincide with the 1957 Monaco nuptials. Costumes from two other Grace Kelly films are represented in the exhibition: Rear Window (1954) and High Society (1956), Kelly’s last film in which she wears her actual engagement ring. Also included in the installation are the Oscar statuette and the aqua satin evening gown by Edith Head (1897-1981) that Kelly wore when accepting the Academy Award for Best Actress in the movie The Country Girl (1954).
So if any of you find yourselves in the Land Down Under this autumn (don’t forget it’s the opposite season in the southern hemisphere!), make time for a trip to Bendigo, a charming Victorian town, to view the wardrobe of a 20th century fashion maven, Grace Kelly: Style Icon.