April 19, 1956, the world was treated to a storybook romance come true when actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer of Monaco. Thinking back to roles she played before she became a princess, we remember Grace Kelly as the ultimate 'Deb'. Had she not pursued acting with such determination, in all probability she would have become just that : A Mainline Philadelphia Debutante. As a result, on film she reflected that cool, refined blond to perfection.

Princess Grace's gown to this day is one of the most classic and remains the touchstone in bridal fashion. Impeccably made, the taffeta and Val lace confection was a wedding gift from MGM Studios. Imagine this: 25 yards of silk taffeta, 100 yards of silk net, and vintage Belgian rose point lace. Her headpiece was classic : a bandeau cap covered in tiny seed pearls under an intricate lace mantilla.
Designed by Helen Rose who worked on Kelly's costumes for High Society and The Swan, the gown was designed and run up in less than four months if you can believe that. Hollywood by then was ace at whipping up a masterpiece if a movie or event demanded. Over thirty seamstresses labored on the gown in the MGM workrooms round the clock. From a designer's standpoint, I'd have to say the Kelly gown is the most perfect dress ever made, despite it's speedy construction time. Made up of four different components, it's actually a combination of separates all put together to look like a traditional ballgown. Studying the construction diagrams with the fitted, long-sleeved bodice and full bell skirt, this gown though cutting edge back in 1956, will always be timeless.

Kelly's gown was donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art shortly after her wedding in 1956. Today it's still there.

Vogue Patterns

If you love Grace's gown and want to incorporate components in your own gown, start by studying the original creation and Vogue pattern above that closely emulates this design. Luckily today's bride can be more daring. Though Grace was the epitome of a refined lady in her day, she worked in a glitzy industry. Marrying a prince, she wanted to reassure the Monegasques she wasn't just another movie star blond in sequins. Setting the tone for her reign, she chose the most classic of all designs. Contemporary brides might want to experiment with a different neckline or modified skirt. Here's another idea. Grace's bodice was actually a blouse. You could experiment with a shrug or jacket over a strapless gown.