Down Under!


Today's post was written by FIDM Museum curator, Kevin Jones. In this post, Kevin describes the reason behind his recent trip to Australia.


Once in a while a curator has the privilege of traveling to another museum to install a garment that is being loaned to an exhibition. Generally, the borrowing institution is within driving distance. I just returned from such a trip last week and while I didn’t drive my car, I did go by bus…that is, by Qantas Airbus, the largest passenger plane in the world that can transport more than 500 people at a time. My destination was Bendigo, Australia, in the southeast province of Victoria, one and a half hours outside of Melbourne. The Bendigo Art Gallery just opened the exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon (11 March – 17 June 2012), which traveled nearly as far as I did, coming from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. An overview of the gallery and the exhibition can be read here.

Bendigo Art Gallery

View of the Bendigo Art Gallery

The FIDM Museum loaned one of its treasured Hollywood costumes to the V&A for their installation: an embroidered white mull gown worn by Grace Kelly (1929-1982) in the movie The Swan (1956) and designed by Helen Rose (1904-1985), who also designed Kelly's wedding gown. When the Bendigo Art Gallery scheduled the exhibition for a visit to Australia, curator Tansy Curtin asked the FIDM Museum to include our rare surviving costume from Hollywood’s Golden Age of the studio system.

FIDM MuseuM CaseView of the embroidered white mull gown worn by Grace Kelly in its case at Bendigo Art Gallery

Few Grace Kelly costumes survive, and the FIDM Museum’s is particularly interesting as movie stills of Kelly wearing the gown were incorporated into an “official” wedding portrait of her with Prince Rainier III (1923-2005), as seen on the cover of a special Royal Wedding edition of the magazine Point de Vue.

MGM Studios even held the release of the film, completed the year before, to coincide with the 1957 Monaco nuptials. Costumes from two other Grace Kelly films are represented in the exhibition: Rear Window (1954) and High Society (1956), Kelly’s last film in which she wears her actual engagement ring. Also included in the installation are the Oscar statuette and the aqua satin evening gown by Edith Head (1897-1981) that Kelly wore when accepting the Academy Award for Best Actress in the movie The Country Girl (1954).

So if any of you find yourselves in the Land Down Under this autumn (don’t forget it’s the opposite season in the southern hemisphere!), make time for a trip to Bendigo, a charming Victorian town, to view the wardrobe of a 20th century fashion maven, Grace Kelly: Style Icon.

Princess Charlene - FIDM Museum Costume - AustraliaPrincess Charlene of Monaco (pictured in the pink and silver dress) traveled to Australia to open the exhibition. Here she views the FIDM Museum dress worn by her late mother-in-law.

3 responses to “Down Under!

  1. Katharine says:

    Thank you for your very complimentary comments about your travels “Down Under”. May I be permitted to make one small correction, Australia does not have Provinces, only States and Territories: Victoria is a State,as are Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales. NT and the ACT are Territories, the former stands for Northern Territory, the latter for Australian Capital Territory.

  2. Rachel says:

    Katharine, thank you for the correction!

    Sharon, I am sure that Kevin would agree with you…he loves his job being the
    curator and ambassador for the museum.

  3. BMW says:

    This was at the V&A while I was in London a while back. The exhibition is well worth the visit! Not that anyone needs an excuse to visit Australia. Great people!

Leave a Reply