Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A McCall's dress that didn't fail to impress


This, my dears, is not my long overdue shirtdress for Idle Fancy's Autumn of 1000 shirtdresses. If nothing else, that tiny waist should have been a clue! It is in fact the engagement dress of actress Grace Kelly.


On one of the last days of our Christmas break my youngest daughter and I met at Paleis Het Loo, a Royal palace halfway between our respective homes, to visit the exhibiton 'Grace Kelly, princess and style icon.' The exhibition opened with stunning dresses from Kelly's 50's Hollywood period, most of them designed by costume designers Helen Rose and Edith Head.


A lace dress, designed by Oleg Cassini, made me wonder about the lace pattern placement. The, slightly off center, vertical use of scallops in the skirt puzzled me. Would you cut it like that? The same scallops were used exquisitely in the bodice, especially along the deep v-neck in the back. It was one of Grace Kelly's favourite dresses and seeing the fabulous fit of the bodice makes you understand why. That neckline is to die for.


Of course THE lace dress was the wedding dress Kelly wore in April 1956 when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. It was designed by Helen Rose and gifted by the MGM studio.


The second part of the exposition showed the dresses from her Monaco years, during which she promoted French Haute Couture and wore designs by Lanvin, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Madame Grès and Chanel. Lots of iconic dresses and accessories, including of course the Kelly bag, were on display. No pictures, as by then security pointed out to me I apparently missed a 'no cameras' sign. Oops.

By the way, did you know that  Grace Kelly was wearing a McCall's dress when she first met her future husband Prince Rainier of Monaco? 


On the day of the scheduled photo session at the palace a power failure in her hotel prevented her from ironing her clothes. This silk taffeta McCall's dress was the only one to emerge uncreased from her suitcases. A sign at the exhibition said: 'It was extraordinary that Grace Kelly wore a dress made from a home sewing easy to make pattern on this important occasion.' She had even advertised the same dress as a model on the cover of a 1955 spring collection pattern book. 
Extraordinary? To be honest, I preferred this dress over some of the designer pieces!

Which brings me back to home sewing. My Christmas dress, the McCall's 6696 meets Burda mix, is finally taking shape. I know. It's halfway January, but since I already missed that deadline I can take my time and finish it whenever I want. As a matter of fact the dress on top of this post vaguely reminded me of my own work in progress. Shirtdress, lapels, jacquard, even the turned sleeve bands......let's get on with it!





20 comments:

  1. So cool that she was wearing one of our patterns! Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. What an interesting post, those clothes are really beautiful and elegant I loved all those 50s clothes with the nipped in waists,sadly I am old enough to remember them !!!! lol

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    1. Those dresses looked so timeless!

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  3. They are elegant dresses, I agree with Diana. Just the thing to wear for housework!!

    I love the silk McCalls dress most of all here.

    Your collar is looking fantastic. :)

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    1. Don't you love the styling as well? White gloves, lovely head pieces, beautiful shoes and bags. In the end even these gorgeous dresses wouldn't look so fabulous with sneakers and a plastic tote!

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  4. This is such a lovely post and it must have been very special to see the Grace Kelly exhibition with your daughter. I loved all the clothes that she wore because she had excellent taste. The McCalls dress is beautiful and a lovely story to go with it.
    Your shirt dress is going to be beautiful and those lapels look very professional. I just saw on IG the sleeve cuffs and I really like those too. Can't wait to see you in your new dress.

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  5. I loved having a peek at that exhibit! I'm going to look for that pattern.

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    1. It's McCalls 3100. For as little as 145 dollar it can be yours ;)

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  6. I agree about the neckline on that lace dress - so beautiful and becoming. Those fashions from the '50s are fabulous, aren't they? Loved reading this post. Your dress is going to be lovely!

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  7. Beautiful dresses, thank you for posting the pictures. I was a teenager in the 50's but even then my waist was never that small. :( Look forward to seeing your finished dress. I love the shape of the collar and lapels.

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  8. Thank you for sharing! These are lovely.

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  9. Don't those dresses worn by Grace Kelly look devine! Women really did dress beautifully back in those days. Probably not practical for our lifestyles now unfortunately. Your shirt dress is looking great so far. What a gorgeous collar :)

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  10. My mother and I found a really cool costume pattern from the 50's that made an 18th Century gown. Never got a chance to make it.

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  11. Lovely! Those 50's ... so many inspirations!

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  12. Maybe the cameras were discouraged because the dress on the mannequin isn't the same one as is on Princess Grace. I guess they don't dare have the real one out. Beautiful dresses. So very lovely. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. The McCall's dress, that is. I didn't look as closely at the others.

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    2. Most of the dresses were original! The wedding dress was a copy, some fragile parts of the original got damaged over time. The McCall's dress was also a remake, as you can tell from the pattern placement. I don't know why, maybe she'd worn it to death? All other dresses were from the collection of the Grimaldi family, straight from the palace in Monte Carlo!

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  13. We had the same or a similar exhibition in London too - it was interesting to compare her tiny wedding waist with her figure in the 1970s when she was much thicker. Also while I love the McCalls dress I would want to wear one with so much fullness in the rather long skirt.

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  14. We had the same or a similar exhibition in London too - it was interesting to compare her tiny wedding waist with her figure in the 1970s when she was much thicker. Also while I love the McCalls dress I would want to wear one with so much fullness in the rather long skirt.

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