An exhibit of sumptuous fashions by haute couturier Christian Dior for Princess Grace of Monaco (1929-1982) is now featured at the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington. Visitors will relish more than 80 different outfits, jewels, accessories, magazine covers and newsreels featuring this stylish American actress.
Though Grace Kelly collaborated with Dior during her film career, it was after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 that her wardrobe was elevated to a royal stature. After the fashion designer’s death in 1957, lead Dior designer Marc Bohan developed a new sartorial direction of exquisite clothing made by hand, sur mesure. Sharing an extraordinary personal rapport with the Princess, Bohan was adept at enhancing both her natural beauty and her down-to-earth, approachable manner.
The array of chic frocks on display run the gamut from colourful gowns for royal galas to the more reserved for state dinners — even the perfect little black dress. The craftsmanship is impeccable and the detailed artistry is a marvel to view. Silk fabrics of myriad varieties were clearly a favourite: shantung, crepe, and mousseline de soie, a chiffon-like silk that flowed easily with movement
An alluring trio of dresses features radiant blues meant to mirror the captivating colours of the Mediterranean sea. A highlight is an ink-blue sleeveless dress with a dazzling band of wooden beadwork at the neckline. It’s a unique combination of the brilliant elegance of silk and the natural allure of raw materials. Perhaps it’s a lovely metaphor for the Princess herself.
If you’re in the Washington area, this engaging exhibit is not to be missed.
Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens
4155 Linnean Ave., NW
Washington DC 20008
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.
Tickets are required for general admission.
The Dior exhibit runs through January 8, 2023.
Lead photo credit : Grace of Monaco photographed by Gianni Bozzacchi. Photo courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, photographed by Erik Kvalsvik