Monday, June 29, 2009

How To Wear Pearls The Grace Kelly Way

I am a big fan of Turner Classic Movies because I love to see how life in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s was depicted through film, especially in terms of interior decoration and fashion. After watching Hitchcock's "Rear Window" starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly (in her prime) last weekend, I have been thinking about how jewelry was used as a part of costuming in film.

From Screen Goddess to Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly had a the kind of icy beauty that few could match. While there wasn't a movie in which she didn't capture the attention of the audience by her sheer beauty alone, in "Rear Window" she stands out even further by being the main visual element in the claustrophobic interior set of the Jimmy Stewart character's apartment. Hitchcock's filmed her in such a way that she dominates the scenes that she is in, and as in the typical Hitchcockian oeuvre, she is his vision of the elegant upper class blonde with perfect skin, impeccably tailored outfits and coiffed with not a hair out of place.

My favorite costume from the film on Kelly's character, a career woman, was this smart Edith Head celadon green suit with white gloves and hat. The suit was simplistically designed with minimal embellishments. The suit had a jacket with no lapel or buttons, only a stand up collar that drew the attention upward to her face, and a straight knee length skirt. Under the suit she wore an crisp shirt that crisscrossed in the front high at the neck and then as she removed her jacket proved to be a halter style that exposed her upper back. The outfit, like the Kelly character, was both smart and sexy.

Even more than the chic suit, the jewelry was what stood out, particularly the multi-strand pearl bracelet with dangling charms which caught the light as she moved through the scene. The bracelet was a hybrid style that used demure pearls but in Retro glam way, with big clunky gold charms that were typical of the Retro era. Also typical of Retro styling was the way that she wore her earrings, large rounded button style worn on the ears, rather than anything in a dangling or chandelier design.

But my favorite jewelry element was the single strand of pearls, the Grace Kelly signature look. She wore rather large cultured pearls, 9mm or perhaps even South Sea size of 10mm and she wore them high on the neck choker style. No prim triple stand or swinging opera length, the choker style gave her a sort of girl next door - dominatrix look which was incredibly sexy.

Like the necklines of the blouses and evening gowns that she wore in the film, the choker length pearls focused all the attention on her face which of course the camera loved.
It wasn't by accident of course that Hitchcock cast beautiful blondes in his films. Not only did he cast actresses with a look of virgin-esque unapproachablity (is that a word?) and innocence who needed the main character's protection to carry his plots forward, Hitchcock was acutely aware of the importance of eye candy for his commercial success.
While all the famous Hitchcockian actresses were stunning, Tippi Hedrin, Kim Novak, Ingrid Bergman, Eva Marie Saint, etc., I think that Grace Kelly had the most memorable individual style and today I can't picture her in my mind without that iconic choker length pearl necklace.
And that is what jewelry is supposed to do, add that little je ne sais quoi that makes our look unique and memorable.
Since I'm loving this look so much I feel like having a BHB contest for my BHB followers.
Next Friday, I will randomly choose one of my BHB followers and give away a choker style pearl necklace using authentic Chinese freshwater pearls, 7-7.5mm, with a 14K clasp. My freshwater pearls are oval shaped with beautiful luster...the shape gives them an edgier rather than a girlie-girl look.
So be sexy and smart and follow my blog!
Also, if you sign up to be a fan of Beladora on facebook, there is a discount code for a David Yurman bangle bracelet with pearl ends in 18K. Get the code from the Beladora page on Facebook!
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Couture Carrie said...

Love the pearl choker! Fabulous photos and analysis, darling!


Belle de Ville said...

Thanks CC. I think that one of these days when I get an extra hour or so I'm going to try to post articles on Rita Hayworth's Retro jewelry in the movie "Gilda" and Norma Shearer's Art Deco jewelry in "The Women". Then maybe from there I can delve into Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Victorian and Georgian jewelry as seen in film.
It's just that a with working a 10 plus hour day I don't have the time to delve into the subject.

Jill said...

I've always followed you but NOW I'm officially following! I want my name in the drawing!! I love pearls. I'm actually wearing, right this minute, my Wendy Brigode Tin Cup pearl necklace. I went to a "swearing in of new American citizens" today...I have no idea what it's called, but I felt like I needed to dress appropriately. LPC at Priviledge would have been proud of me!

Belle de Ville said...

Jill, this is your official Welcome to my BHB blog aka the top secrect HQ for my opinions, snarky or not, about all things that interest me.
And thank you for dressing appropriately at the new citizen swearing in ceremony. When I think of what my ancestors (and probably yours too) went through to get to this country, I think that respect in dress and demeanor for the seriousness of the occasion is called for. the rate that I am going with getting followers...your statistical chances are pretty high for getting the pearls!

miss cavendish said...

I love pearls on other people but find them too formal on me. Maybe super long ones jazzed up with another strand of chunky stones?

Belle de Ville said...

Miss C, I too love them long and instead of strung on a string, spaced out on a chain with gemstones bezel set in between. Right now Chopard has the most beautiful long strand of gold pearls with either yellow sapphires, or most likely yellow diamonds, that is so elegant.
But this is why I love pearls, they can be worn so many ways.
Right now I'm finally getting around to reading the biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, the ultimate flapper of the 1920s and it reminds me of how long strands of pearls were the iconic look during the flapper years.

Lisa said...

What a coincidence. My friends and I were at dinner a couple of nights ago talking about old movies and spent much of the conversation discussing how beautiful and refined Grace Kelley was in Rear Window. She was the personification of elegance. I also agree that the wrap shirt under the suit was the perfect. Such a subtle seduction.

I'd love to know the name of the bio of Zelda Fitzgerald you're reading and whether or not you enjoy it. Always on the look out for new books to read.

Lisa said...

It's been a long day. Just realized this was an old post. Hope you don't mind me prattling on.

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