Event: Grace Kelly—Style Icon Exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Yesterday I attending the much-hyped (both in the media and in my mind) Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

I’ve been a fan of Kelly since I first saw her in Rear Window three Christmas’ ago, and when my mum showed me the gallery’s brochure on upcoming events this time last year, I was wetting my pants with excitement to see an exhibition based around one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of the golden age of Hollywood.

In preparation, I watched High Society and To Catch a Thief (still have to check off Dial M for Murder on my list of Grace must-sees), but Rear Window will forever remain in my heart as my favourite Kelly film (and one of my favourite films, period).

While the exhibition disappointingly didn’t feature Kelly’s signature Rear Window dress, the black and white cocktail length ballgown from her opening scene in the movie, it did have on display the black mid-length dress from the film, which is so classic and timeless it could be seen on the street today.

The dearth of clothes from her first ten films were made up for in the several pieces from High Society, her last film and one from which she was allowed to keep her wardrobe. These were followed up with the dress she met Prince Rainier in, the famous Hermès Kelly bag, her bridal trousseau and, of course, a replica of her wedding gown (the original’s fabric is too delicate to travel).

The rest of the exhibition consisted of a myriad of Grace’s own clothes after she became a princess: a powder blue gown to conceal her baby bump and some elegantly embellished suits were my favourites. Despite references to the Princess’ reluctance to embrace the sky high hemlines of the sixties, there was an Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress, a staple of the times, and some flowing seventies-style gowns.

From the fairytale exhibition I had dreamed up in my head, I had much higher expectations than what was presented at the gallery. This is not to say that Grace Kelly: Style Icon isn’t an exhibition worth seeing, if fashion and movies and Kelly are your thing. But, compared with some of the other exhibitions Bendigo Art Gallery has hosted, it might be their most hyped one but certainly not their best.

 

 

 

Related: Bendigo Art Gallery: Giving the Metro Museums a Run for Their Money.

Loving… Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.

Images via Grace Kelly Bendigo, Clothes on Film, Costumerism, YouTube.

Bendigo Art Gallery: Giving the Metro Museums a Run for Their Money.

As past posts this week would indicate, I spent the weekend in Bendigo, in country Victoria. I visited some old friends, went secondhand book shopping, got my hair did, and attended the opening of the Bendigo Art Gallery’s American Dreams exhibition.

There were some stunning portraits by some of America’s most gifted and famous photographers, like Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and Richard Avedon.

While this exhibition isn’t the greatest I’ve seen (FYI, that was The Golden Age of Couture, also hosted by the Bendigo Art Gallery, which displayed gorgeous garments from the likes of Christian Dior and his 1940s “New Look”, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain), it is one in a long line of coups for the country gallery.

Last year I saw Frederick McCubbin’s Last Impressions and Looking for Faeries, in addition to 2009’s Golden Age of Couture, and this year the gallery has The White Wedding Dress display in store for us. But the exhibition I’m most looking forward to won’t be opening until 2012, but it’s well worth the wait: Grace Kelly—Style Icon, featuring costumes from her most famous films (Rear Window, I’m looking at you) and couture gowns from her reign as Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco.

With stellar exhibitions like these, Melbourne’s galleries and museums had better watch out!

Related: Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

Loving… Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.

Gustave Moreau’s The Eternal Feminine Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Elsewhere: [Bendigo Art Gallery] Homepage.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] American Dreams: 20th Century Photography from George Eastman House.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] The Golden Age of Couture: Paris & London, 1947–1957.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] McCubbin Last Impressions: 1907–1917.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashions.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] Grace Kelly: Style Icon.

Images via Bendigo Art Gallery, Ethical Style.

Loving… Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.

 

I can’t say I’ve really gotten into much Hitchcock in my lifetime (that’s more my mum’s forte), however I loved Rear Window from the moment I inserted into the DVD player.

However, after a second watching this Christmas, I realised the power of Grace Kelly’s character, Lisa Fremont, as the girlfriend of central protagonist L.B. Jeffries (played by James Stewart).

Sure, she comes across as a vapid socialite on first glance, but when she opens her mouth, it is revealed that she has a job (astonishing for that period in time!), albeit as a gossip columnist, and is very self-sufficient.

Jeffries goes on about how she is somewhat pampered (being a socialite) and could never hack it on one of his photography missions.( Evidently it is he who could not hack it on his own photography assignment, managing to get his leg broken whilst documenting a car race.)

When Lisa volunteers to snoop in Jeffries’ neighbours’ apartment whilst he is out, on one hand she is proving herself to him; proving that she can get her hands dirty and is up for some adventure. But, as Lizz Yeh points out in her comment in response to Gender Goggles“Hitchcock & Feminist Theory in Suspicion & Rear Window, “we have to remember that a lot of the plot is driven by Lisa and L.B. It is only after Lisa concurs with L.B. that L.B. decides to take any sort of action.” In addition, she’s the one who points out that a woman doesn’t leave her favourite handbag and wedding ring when she goes on a trip, and doesn’t leave her jewellery jumbled up in a bag. On Yeh’s comments, it does seem that Jeffries often strives for Lisa’s approval. Whilst I wouldn’t say he’s a “weak” male character by any means, Lisa is certainly his “better half”.

On that, Lisa proves that women can be multifaceted. She can read fashion magazines and attend balls in gorgeous couture gowns, but she can also investigate a murder and accompany her man on adventurous trips. Her attitude also flies in the face of feminism’s detractors: she can please her man by reading the kinds of books he thinks she should (but swapping back to her glossy du jour when he falls asleep!) and helping him in his time of need, but she also does what she thinks and feels is right. Ultimately, Jeffries and Lisa are equals in a Hitchcockian world.

Related: Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Female Characters Actually “Strong”, Or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Gender Goggles] Hitchcock & Feminist Theory in Suspicion & Rear Window.

[Overthinking It] Why Weak Male Characters Are Bad for Women.

 

Movies: The Best Movies I’ve Seen This Year.

 

Tomorrow, When the War Began. Check out my review to see how strongly I feel about it.

Desk Set. This 1957 romantic comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy takes place in a reference library, and deals with the incorporation of computers to help the ladies in their cataloguing. With a healthy dose of the trademark ’50s slapstick rom-com dynamic and TDF fashion, I loved this one.

Easy A. Again, another I’ve done a review on. While I had high hopes for this one, it didn’t live up to them fully, but it is one of the smarter teen movies in recent memory. On par with Mean Girls, perhaps?

Rear Window. What took me so long, right? I watched this one for the first time last Christmas, and continued the tradition again this holiday season. Grace Kelly is luminous as “his girl Friday” to James Stewart’s L.B. Jeffries, who is the ultimate leading man. Hitchcock at his best.

Toy Story 3. It is unanimous that Toy Story 3 is one of the best movies released in 2010. Perhaps the best of the Toy Story franchise? Nah, my money’s on the first instalment.

Desperately Seeking Susan. So bad it’s good. The fashion is fabulous (on Madonna’s part, anyway) and Her Madgesty is surprisingly likable in it.

Sorry about the dismal effort in this post, but seriously; there were no good movies this year! You only have to look at Sex & the City 2 (which I quite liked, but will admit was baaad), The Expendables and Killers for proof of that.

That’s why I spent a lot of my cinema-going money on the classics, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Beauty & the Beast in 3D. That counts as a movie I haven’t seen before this year, right? Right…?

Related: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Review.

Easy A Review.

Sex & the City 2 Review.

The Expendables Review.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Easy A The Next Mean Girls?

[Jezebel] I Went to See Killers & It’s All Your Fault.

Men in Fiction: My Most Loved Made-Up Males.

Last week I featured my favourite fictional females, and this week I thought I’d give the guys a go.

In the vein of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, her father Atticus is way up there. He represents “the father figure I never had”, guiding Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dil through the last summer of their naïve childhood and how judging a book by it’s cover (or skin colour) is not the way to go. Plus, he has a kick ass name!

Similar to my obsession with To Kill a Mockingbird is my love of Dominick Dunne and any of his books, specifically Another City, Not My Own, in which Dunne’s alter-ego Gus Bailey acts as the fictional narrator of Dunne’s real-life O.J. Simpson trial experiences. It is hard to separate the two men, which is what I love about Dunne’s stories; a reader familiar with Dunne’s experiences doesn’t know where real-life ends and fiction begins.

Every fan of Friends has a favourite character, and mine has always been Chandler Bing. He gets the funniest storylines, and Matthew Perry has great comedic timing. There are many episodes I could ramble on about, but my two favourite Chandler moments are when Phoebe attempts to seduce him into admitting his relationship with Monica, and when Chandler kicks up a stink about Joey stealing his chair before Ross’s benefit, and in a check-mate move, Joey puts on every item of clothing in Chandler’s possession, quipping in true Chandler fashion, “Could I be wearing any more clothes?”

It’s been a Disney-centric year, what with Beauty & the Beast about to be re-released in 3D, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing Disney songs in December (which I’m so going to, FYI), the first African American Disney Princess in the lacklustre The Princess & the Frog, and the much anticipated release of Toy Story 3, with one of my all-time favourite characters, Woody. The pull-string sheriff is inspirational in that he’ll never “leave a man behind”, he exists primarily for the pleasure of his owner, Andy, but discovers that there’s more to life, like making friends and other people happy, than what he thought his true purpose was; to be with Andy. I loved the third instalment of the saga, but it can never top the first one. So quotable, so timeless, so child-at-heart. ♥

Other inspirational men of fiction include Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon; Shia LaBeouf’s character in Disturbia, and the character who inspired him, L.B. Jeffries from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window; Fiver, Bigwig and Hazel from Watership Down; Woody’s space ranger counterpart, Buzz Lightyear; the Beast in Beauty & the Beast; and Holden Caulfield in A Catcher in the Rye.