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Soon-to-be royal Meghan Markle has enthralled the world with her fairytale-like evolution from Hollywood celebrity to prominent royal figure. Markle, however, isn’t the first A-lister to abandon the limelight to follow the path to royalty. The ethereal Grace Kelly retired her Hollywood acting career to become the Princess of Monaco back in 1956 and her wedding to Prince Rainier III was undeniably one of the most iconic of all time. The wedding was dubbed the event of the century and her gown, in particular, inspired generations of brides who aspired to cultivate her elegant look for their own big day. For more information about the stunning and timeless garment, follow along for 15 hidden details on Grace Kelly’s wedding dress:
The material used to craft the dress was a delicate rose point Brussels lace. The gown featured sheer long sleeves made entirely of the lace and an elegant high neckline. The most shocking part, however, is that the antique lace was over 125 years old and still looked impeccable. Additionally, the full skirt was made of silk and the bride also switched between three different petticoats throughout the evening to change up her look.
Not only was the antique Brussels lace over 125 years old, but it was also carefully stitched together with intense detail. The seamstresses re-embroidered the lace on the bodice to ensure there were no visible seams. They also added hundreds of seed pearls throughout to further hide any stitching and to make the look even more embellished and detailed.
Helen Rose, MGM’s head costume designer, was the mastermind behind Grace Kelly’s iconic gown! The Academy award-winning designer created the gown after having experience working with Kelly and creating costumes for some of her most swoon-worthy films, including The Swan, which is the origin of the dress pictured below. In addition to Rose, thirty seamstresses joined her team at the atelier where they worked for six weeks straight to perfect the gown.
Head costume designer Helen Rose actually gifted the dress to Grace Kelly on behalf of Kelly’s film studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). For a wedding as iconic as this, it was definitely understandable that Kelly donned multiple outfits throughout the evening. Rose designed two of the wedding outfits Kelly wore on her big day and both were intended to be a wedding gift from the studio to the beloved bride to be.
The elegant lace gown was crafted with care and precise attention to detail because of how scrutinized it would be in the public eye. The timeless gown was broken down into 10 separate parts upon design, which included the lace bodice that came with a slip, skirt support and underbodice. The gown also featured three different petticoats — one was foundational, one ruffled and one smooth, which sat beneath the pleated silk faille skirt. Additionally, the gown featured a train insert and silk faille sash which was worn around her waist to complete the look.
The Helen Rose-design definitely featured a lot of fabric considering all the intricate layering and piecework involved in its creation. The gown itself used 400 yards of fabric in its completion while the skirt, which was made of ivory faille, required 100 yards of silk net to be created. Faille is a delicate, soft fabric that is originated from silk and typically features a ribbed pattern to it.
During royal weddings, the bride typically wears a sparkling tiara suited for a Princess-to-be. Kelly, however, decided to do something a little different and instead opted for a Juliet style cap to hold her veil in place. Despite being relatively trendy at the time, this piece is so elegant and classy that it doesn’t come across outdated in the slightest. The crown-style headpiece featured pearls, lace and a wreath of paper orange blossom flowers.
Many elite designers tend to hide a secret good luck charm into the pieces they create for their brides, and Grace Kelly’s shoe designer was no different! Designer David Evins was careful in crafting her heels with seed pearls and lace that coordinated with her dress and veil, but also added a copper penny into one shoe for good luck. The purpose of this extra touch was to wish his beautiful client a wedding day filled with happiness and a prosperous marriage.
An opaque veil just doesn’t seem suitable for a bride as drop dead gorgeous as Grace Kelly! Luckily, her gown designer also realized this and decided to select a specifically designed veil that kept her face as visible as possible. There were an estimated 600 guests in physical attendance with over 30 million viewers watching from afar, so ensuring Grace Kelly’s face was clear was definitely important. Aside from being completely sheer, the veil also featured two tiny lovebirds appliqued in lace around the edge.
Although Grace Kelly was non-traditional with her flower crown hair accessory, she did follow tradition when it came to some of her other bridal accessories. Mid-20th-century devout brides often carried a bible in their hands rather than a bouquet while walking down the aisle, which was a tradition that Grace Kelly adopted. She received the book as a wedding gift from MGM and it was covered in silk, lace, and pearls to match her dress. She carried the book along with a small bouquet of lily of the valleys as she glided down the aisle.
Shoe designer David Evins decided to design quite a small heel for Kelly since she stood close in height to her fiance Prince Rainier III. Although the heels lacked height sitting at only 2 and a half inches, they definitely didn’t lack in detail. Evins designed the pump carefully to match with her dress and incorporated seed pearls and lace. Additionally, he added a personal touch of customization by embossing “Grace Kelly” in the left shoe and his own name in the right.
Many brides decide to change out of their bridal dress following the ceremony and often change into something a little more party-appropriate and comfortable. Typically the reception dress is still white but a little more casual, Grace Kelly, however, decided to do something completely different and opted for a pink dress following the ceremony! The elegant look was crafted with champagne and pink lace and consisted of a matching jacket and full midi-length skirt.
Although the pink lace number she wore was quite notable, Grace Kelly actually wore a whopping total of four dresses throughout the event! In addition to her bridal look and pink lace number, she wore a tea-length ensemble complete with gloves, a cap sleeve design, and an embellished clutch to accept wedding congratulations at a press conference. Additionally, she changed one more time during the evening for a reception gala where she wore a white silk Lanvin gown, according to Brides.
Although Grace Kelly’s train doesn’t quite outshine Princess Diana‘s, which clocked in at a whopping 25 feet, it was definitely still quite dramatic! The train of her gown was 3 feet long but she wore a veil that cascaded 10 and a half feet behind her as she graced the aisle. The circular wedding veil was waist-length at the front and then gradually got longer as it reached behind her. The entire piece used 90 yards of tulle to be created!
Grace Kelly’s dress can definitely be called one of the most iconic bridal looks of all time. Her romantic lace dress inspired generations of women for decades and even Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton took direct inspiration from Kelly’s look for her own big day! Kate Middleton is one of today’s most polished and elegant style icons, so we are not at all surprised that she used Grace Kelly’s gown as a prototype for her own.