How does one dress the world’s most glamorous princess? That was the daunting task of French costume designer Gigi Lepage when faced with the job of outfitting Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman for her role as Princess Grace—nee Hollywood darling Grace Kelly—for the film Grace of Monaco, making its cable TV debut on Monday, May 25 on Lifetime Television. Set in 1962, the movie takes an intimate look at a year in the life of the actress as she adapts to her new role as the wife of Prince Rainier III.
The clothing conundrum was solved by researching, recreating and borrowing as many authentic wardrobe pieces as possible, from Grace’s couture gowns, custom hats, designer suits and glittering jewels, both original and inspired by the great houses of Dior, Chanel and Hermès.
Costume designer Lepage is an authority of Parisian style, having previously dressed les dames of France’s cinematic royalty including Isabelle Huppert in Ghost River, Marion Cotillard in Lady Noire and Catherine Deneuve as the Queen in The Musketeer.
To recreate the era and regal looks, Lepage researched the archives of the most famous European designers of the 1950s and 1960s. The stunning whisper-blue dress with Swarovski crystals Kidman wears in the Red Cross ballroom scene was based on a Jean Dessès design. A regal ivory dress was inspired by a 1956 Antonio del Castillo design for Lanvin. It was accessorized by the sash, star and badge of Monaco's Order of Saint-Charles, and above-the-elbow satin gloves made by Maison Fabre.
Chanel offered a suit from the 2012 fall haute couture collection, and altered the skirt to suit 1960s style. Christian Dior recreated two suits inspired by the ones designed by Marc Bohan, the creative director of the fashion house at that time. French fashion house Hermès provided the silk scarves, fine jewelry was loaned by Bvlgari, and shoes were by Salvatore Ferragamo and Jimmy Choo. One-of-a-kind hats were created by Alexandre Barthet, the son of Jean Barthet, Grace of Monaco’s original milliner.
Hermès also provided the iconic Sac à dépêches handbags made popular by Princess Grace. They were renamed the Kelly bag after she used the purses to discreetly hide her growing belly from paparazzi when she was pregnant with her first child, Princess Caroline.