Thursday night I had the great honour of attending the Grace Kelly: Style Icon opening reception at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A red carpet lined the grand staircase entrance and papparazzi swarmed each guest as they arrived on the scene. The grand foyer was overflowing with glamourous individuals who had flown in from around the world for the momentous occasion. Champagne was flowing, a specially mixed cocktail was circulating and an amazing jazz band was playing, as we all mingled with one another and shared tales of Grace Kelly moments from our past. I’d never seen so many beautifully jeweled women. It was as if Europe’s entire upper class had visited their vaults on the afternoon of the opening to retrieve their finest jewels.
When the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum introduced His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Monaco there was a silent awe that spread throughout the crowd. Albert has, of course, been in and out of the public eye for various scandals but on this night he was not a Prince with a reputation. On this evening Albert was the adoring son of the woman every woman between the ages of 90 and 19 has wanted to emulate. He stood at the podium and gave a speech that would have made his mother so very proud. He introduced an exhibit that honoured the true love of his life, his mother Grace Kelly. There were a few moments in which His Royal Highness was overcome with emotion and the crowd followed his lead. Several older women in the mass of people were shedding silent tears. Each in attendance had their own attachment to this legendary woman and her rise as America’s first Princess.
It would be hard for us to describe the exhibition and do it justice. The room is truly a walk through one of the greatest wardrobes in history. So if you are in London, or have the means to plan a trip to London soon, please do so. This is one display you aren’t going to want to miss.
I’ll just share this one story before we go. On the night, a gorgeous lady of many years was walking around the exhibition and seemed a bit lost. She was clutching a bag close to her chest and I instantly recognized the bag as an Hermes ‘Kelly’. I approached the woman (and towered about two feet above her in high heels), bent down and said “Grace Kelly would have been so pleased to see you carrying that beauty on this evening, in which her wardrobe is honoured.” The woman turned to me with such sad beautiful eyes and declared, “It took me a whole afternoon to find this in storage. I had to bring my ‘Kelly’ bag as I remember buying it because of this beautiful woman. And all I wanted to see was her bag and I can’t find it anywhere.” Well that was enough to send me into action. I ran around the exhibit seeking out the one item that this poor woman had travelled all this way to see. I found it…led her to the gorgeous camel brown leather Hermes bag…and was overcome with emotion as this woman starred at this bag as if it was her long lost child.
I challenge anyone to tell me fashion isn’t that important and then watch a woman break down in front of an Hermes bag. It was a moment I will never forget. This bag wasn’t just leather to her. This bag was a memory of a time in her life. I fell in love with the world of fashion all over again in an instant. I didn’t have the chance to ask this lady’s name but we shared stories as if we were long lost friends. We spoke of the legendary house of Hermes and the way in which fashion has changed over the years. We said our goodbyes and as I exited I was approached by an acquaintance that brought to light the identity of this fellow Hermes lover. I won’t reveal her name. I’ll just say she was a legend at Vogue House for many years. If she should ever read this I’d like to say thank you personally for showing me I’m in the right place.