Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bendigo Bound For Grace Kelly: Style Icon

En Route to the Exhibition

A few weeks back, I took a day trip out of town with my mother and sister to see a Grace Kelly exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. I live in Melbourne, which is the state capital of Victoria, in Australia. Bendigo is a major regional city, 150 kilometres north west of Melbourne. The trip was a gift from my sister, Jillian, as a late birthday present for my mother, and a very early birthday present for me.


Bendigo Architecture

Bendigo was a Victorian era boomtown. Gold was discovered in 1851 and that led to a gold rush and a massive influx of migrants. The Bendigo gold fields are the seventh richest in the world and the wealth from the gold was responsible for producing a city notable for its fine Victorian era architecture.


Whirrakee Restaurant 

We arrived in Bendigo around midday and had lunch at the lovely Whirrakee restaurant, located on the ground floor of the historic Colonial Mutual Life building (formerly the Royal Bank) built in 1908. The building has retained its original art nouveau stonemasonry, pressed ceilings and stained glass windows. The restaurant itself was charmingly simple with a small menu of delicious food, and I had trouble tearing my eyes away from the multitude of gorgeous black chandeliers that hung from the beautiful ceiling. After lunch we made the short walk to the gallery through the pretty tree-lined streets.


James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock
on the Set of Rear Window


Grace Kelly: Style Icon was a highly successful exhibition held by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and was secured exclusively, in Australia, by the Bendigo Art Gallery. The exhibition features a selection of the actress's film costumes and clothing from her personal wardrobe. I was particularly interested to see the costume from Rear Window, a film made in 1954, and Kelly's second collaboration with director, Alfred Hitchcock. The pair made a total of three films together before she gave up her acting career to become the wife of Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.


Edna Mode and Edith Head

Grace Kelly's elegant costumes in Rear Window were created by legendary Hollywood designer, Edith Head, who enjoyed a close working relationship with Hitchcock and was used on all the films that the director made for Paramount. Kelly's extensive high-fashion wardrobe in Rear Window was key to establishing her character, Lisa Fremont, as a successful career woman in the fashion industry, and was in contrast to her co-star, James Stewart's, pyjama-clad, "Jeff", who was confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg. Incidentally, the character, "Edna Mode", from the 2004 Pixar/Disney computer-animated film, The Incredibles, is generally believed to be an homage to costume designer, Edith Head.


The Exhibition Dress from Rear Window
and Grace Kelly with Alfred Hitchcock


The exhibition's Rear Window costume was displayed behind glass, in a stylized set, with a life-size photographic backdrop of the scene it featured in. A stunningly ornate full-length mirror stood behind the dress to show the details on the back. Sadly, photography was banned, so instead I purchased a couple of postcards from the gallery gift shop. The picture above left is of the dress that was on display and was also the image used as the backdrop. The picture above right is of Grace Kelly and Hitchcock together at the premiere of Rear Window, and judging by the look on Alfred's face, I think he was rather smitten with his leading lady.

After the long train trip back to Melbourne that evening, the three of us were all pretty exhausted, but between the exhibition, the wonderful food and the beautiful architecture of Bendigo, it was a fun excursion. Thank you, Jill!

18 comments:

  1. Wow, that is some beautiful architecture! I forget Australia isn't all kangaroos and beer sometimes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,

      Haha. Well, we do have plenty of beer and kangaroos as well, but it's nice to be able to show a side of Australia that the rest of the world may not be so familiar with.

      Delete
  2. Those buildings are fabulous!!! I really enjoyed the photos!

    LuLu~*xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi LuLu,

      Thank you! The exhibition was great and the beautiful buildings in Bendigo were the icing on the cake! A lovely day out!

      Delete
  3. Haha, Edna totally looks like Edith. Fantastic pictures of the city. I love all the interesting buildings. Thanks for sharing your trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adsila,

      I love Edna Mode! She was my favourite character in 'The Incredibles'.

      Yes, some of the buildings in Bendigo are just beautiful. I could have done a whole post on the historical architecture alone.

      Delete
  4. If I were eating in the Whirrakee restaurant, I'd be distracted by all those black chandeliers too! That and the lovely decorative plaster that they're hanging from. At least it looks like plaster from the photo. A lot of buildings in Milwaukee from that time have pressed tin ceilings, which are also distracting.

    I always felt the same about Edna Mode and Edith Head. :) Edith was involved with pretty much every movie project back then!

    I agree about the way Alfred Hitchcock is looking at Grace Kelly in that photo! Even before I read what you wrote, I was thinking "Hmm..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Justine,

      Yes, the black chandeliers were gorgeous! The decor was generally quite simple, which accentuated details like the ceilings, cornices, and chandeliers. The building apparently has all its original pressed metal ceilings, so I'm assuming the ceiling roses and cornices are pressed metal too. It does look like plaster in the photo though. I think I was so besotted with the black chandeliers that I'm having trouble recalling what the material looked like when I saw it person. ;) I'll have to do some more research on that.

      Yes, I think it's generally accepted that Edna is an affectionate parody of Edith, but apparently 'The Incredibles' director, Brad Bird, won't confirm or deny it. I adore Edna! :)

      Haha. Yes, Hitchcock looks like a lovesick schoolboy gazing at Grace Kelly that way.

      Delete
  5. If I ever make it to Australia, I'll definitely have to visit Bendigo. I love Victorian era architecture and Art Nouveau.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sharron,

      The city of Melbourne also has plenty of beautiful Victorian era architecture because the wealth from the gold fields flowed into the state capital. I was reading that during the 1880s, at the peak of the economic boom from the gold rush, Melbourne became the richest city in the world. No longer the case, of course! ;)

      Delete
  6. oh wow do i love clothing from that era. went through a vintage phase that revolved around that stuff. but she is soooooooo tiny! seeing her next to hitchcock emphasizes that. beautiful

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi pensive,

      The clothing from that era was lovely, and yes, Grace Kelly has the tiniest little waist. Hitchcock was quite the fashion accessory to have on hand... more slimming than black! ;)

      Delete
  7. Thank you Jillian and Emma. I am such a clever Mother having produced you both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mum,

      Well, thank you for producing us! xoxo

      Delete
  8. I love, love, love the architecture of the town. Old buildings make me happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica,

      Yes, me too! Old buildings, as well as having beauty and character, so often have such interesting stories attached to them.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Hi Jenny,

      Yes, Grace and the architecture! It was a day full of eye candy! :)

      Delete

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting!