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 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.
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!