Courtly Couture~ The Fashion of Grace

      Waking up Friday morning, one of my first thoughts was “William and Kate are married, now.” I didn’t watch the royal wedding live; I recorded it. The Today Show, however, played as I readied for my workday. My focus was on seeing the dress, and I suppose I’m not alone in this.

      I heard speculation that Catherine’s dress would be strapless, the same as practically every celebrity bride of the last decade has chosen. Though she’s always portrayed as a modern woman, I couldn’t imagine her going against the set guidelines of Westminster Abbey that require sleeves on bridal gowns.

      When I saw the shots of her in her gown and veil, my mind instantly jumped to Grace Kelly, before I heard anyone else make the comparison. The gown was so similar to Princess Grace’s wedding dress that I had to look twice. Cheers, Kate!

      Grace Kelly is, for me, THE fashion icon of film.

      I think of the red lace cocktail dress she wore in Dial M for Murder that symbolized her character’s adulterous past. I think about the simple day dress she wore in To Catch a Thief when she revealed her suspicions to Cary Grant. In High Noon, she had the elegant beauty to make a Quaker bonnet look attractive. In Rear Window, she dared to wear black and white at the height of Technicolor.

      In the evening gown department, Kelly is queen. From the white strapless chiffon gown in the fireworks scene to the gold lame costume from the ball, To Catch a Thief is a visual feast. Many of her other films, including High Society and The Swan, feature amazing gowns as well.

      A couple of the commentators on the royal wedding talked about how there would be knock-offs of Catherine’s dress within twenty-four hours. They seemed truly surprised by the fact that she chose the nod to the past rather than select a uniquely modern design. I’m glad. I enjoy retro couture. I think it sends subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) messages about the person or character wearing it.

      In the recent film, The Tourist, Angelina Jolie’s character wears a figure-flattering wardrobe that hearkens back to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Sofia Loren. Her leather gloves indicate that she is efficient, calculating and perhaps hiding something. Her ivory dress with the peach chiffon sash reveals she’s a romantic. Her wool suit shows she’s a professional—professional what, nobody can be sure.

      Actor Zooey Deschanel is known for her musical and artistic talents, and her wardrobe reflects all of the playfulness and whimsy she embodies with her work. Her vintage fashion style is even profiled in a new cotton commercial. I love it.

      I expect that Princess Catherine’s wedding dress will influence fashion around the world, both in film and in our homes. I’m delighted she chose a design that both honored the past and laid groundwork for the future.

      That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!

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