Although Princess Grace of Monaco has long been listed as a fashion icon of the 20th century, up until now, no book have been written regarding her unique and timeless style. To coincide with the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition of her clothing (which lasted from April-September 2010), this book has been produced.
The book is broken down into 3 sections: Actress, Bride, Princess. Accompanying each section are biographies of the prominent designers that she worked with in stage of her life. Throughout the book are lots of photos showing her style evolution.
Since this book is the first of its kind (technically, the second as there was an earlier exhibit of her wedding dress with a catalogue accompanying it: "Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride" by H. Kristina Haughland), one can't do comparisions. However, a few words are neccessary to give Grace Kelly fans a good idea as to whether it's worth buying or not.
The book is a very good overview of Princess Grace's style evolution and the key components of her fashion. I've long considered myself a Grace Kelly aficionado, and someone who loves to emulate her fashion, but even I picked up a few things from this book I hadn't noticed before from general biographies or picture books.
While this book celebrates Princess Grace's style, it doesn't condescend with 'the reader is ignorant of fashion' and that the subject of the book and its writers are superior. (See the exhbition book "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years" for that type of writing.) In fact, the third section of the book is a revelation because it points out why the once fashion-forward Princess became seemingly reactionary and ultra-conservative in her fashion choices during the 1970s-early 1980s.
Also, the photo selection is quite nice. Many are recognizable and iconic, but there are few that are new. The way the book is put together, you get a nice sense how Princess Grace and how her style evolved as trends and fashioned changed.
The fact that this book is the first of its kind to examine Princess Grace's style was enough for me to buy it. However, you should know that:
Despite being co-produced by the V&A Museum, I am loathe to call this an exhibition catalogue. Very few pictures of the clothes are displayed, and as other reviewers have noted, it is usually up close details of an outfit. So, if you missed the exhibtion (as I did) and was hoping this book would give you an idea of what it was like, you are going to be completely and totally disappointed. It is sorely lacking! The V&A Museum should be ashamed of themselves for not putting out a proper exhibition catalogue! (Words can't begin to state just how ridiculous this "exhibition" book is.)
Also, it's not in depth and comprehensive study of Princess Grace's style. If you collect books about style icons, you know what I mean: pictures everywhere of not just the clothing, but the accessories that make the outfit. Outfits both famous and obscure. Fashion mistakes as well as fashion It moments. While this book is a nice overview, there could have been SO much more.
I don't regret buying this since I feel Princess Grace's style is something that doesn't get enough attention or appreciation. However, I would hope it is the first of many to come. The book is flawed, but still good enough.