September 14th is the 33rd anniversary of Princess Grace’s death. I think she was one of the great beauties of the 20th century so I would like to write a blog dedicated to what make-up and cosmetics products she used. Sometimes with fashion icons from the past it is difficult to replicate their make-up choices because they can be so dated. But Grace Kelly’s make-up before her wedding and in the early years of her marriage in the 1950s is so classic that it withstands the test of time. She always had a very ladylike, elegant way of wearing her make-up. It is not too difficult to apply either. Grace did her make-up herself even for formal state occasions after becoming a princess. I guess she had a lot of time to practice how to style her make-up when she was an actress so she knew how to do it herself.
Many of the products that Grace wore in the 1950s are no longer made, but thankfully some other products are still used today and their recipes or formulas have not changed all that much. In this blog I will either talk about the same exact products she used OR products that are a similar, modernized version of what she used from the designers she loved the most.
First, I will talk about the most iconic cosmetic that is associated with Grace Kelly: her perfume from her wedding day. Grace was a gorgeous bride with a stunning wedding dress that was copied by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William. Grace was loyal to designers she worked with for years in the film industry so she asked a costume designer named Helen Rose from MGM studios to make her dress. For her special day, the House of Grimaldi (Monaco’s royal family) commissioned Creed, the luxury perfume house, to make her a special wedding day perfume. The result is a classic scent called “Fleurissimo” or “beautiful flowers” made in 1956. The formula hasn’t changed much in 60 years and it is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and other famous actresses. Fleurissimo is a floral scent. But it is so beautifully done that it actually smells like real flowers. I have smelled it before and I was really impressed. Many floral perfumes may smell like flowers mixed with other notes making the perfume only vaguely resemble the smell of flowers. Fleurissimo actually smells like a bridal bouquet. I mostly smell tuberose, violets, and iris with bergamot. Bergamot is the top note that you smell first when you spray it on but after the dry down period on your skin you will mostly smell roses and violets. It smells like a fresh bouquet of flowers, so I can imagine that when Grace walked down the aisle people must have thought her wedding bouquet smelled really pretty not realizing that they weren’t just smelling her bouquet, but her perfume as well. It is definitely one of the best perfumes I have smelled. As you probably have guessed, this perfume is not cheap. Creed perfumes normally cost around $200 for a 2.5 ounce bottle. However, I have found Fleurissimo for $122 for 2.5 ounces at the link below (click the pictures and it will take you there).
I am glad that I was able to find it online and for this price because they don’t sell this particular scent in any of my local malls and it can be hard to find. I also found this cool little sample of the scent for $10 for .04 ounces. It is enough to use for maybe two days. That way, you can try the scent from this little sample before you buy it to see if you like it or if it works well with the natural scent of your skin since perfumes smell differently on every woman. If you are like me and can’t find this scent in stores I think it is important to smell a sample first before you invest in the full bottle. Here it is:
Next, I would like to talk about Grace’s make-up in the 1950s before and after she became a princess of Monaco. Due to the fact that there were limited cosmetics lines available in the 1950s and considering that Grace was a movie star before becoming a princess I can find more information about what brands she used than if I were writing about some of the other modern royals who tend to be very secretive about what they use.
On most days, Grace preferred a soft, natural eye brow that was a bit filled in for a youthful look. She never wore eyeliner under her eyes and generally would wear one solid color across the whole lid. She wouldn’t use eye shadow on the brow bone under her eyebrow itself, just on her lid. She tended to favor grey eye shadows and soft pastels with just a little mascara. The most important part of 1950s make-up is moisturized, hydrated skin. Women had the option to wear either cream or powder concealer but Grace had really pretty skin so she preferred to wear powder with a very light rouge that was almost the color of her skin, sort of a peachy color. She would apply it on her cheekbones, on her forehead, her nose, and lightly on her chin. Basically anywhere the sun would turn you pink first if you go out into the sun. Never too much, though, because Grace had very fair skin. Her make-up artist told her to make sure not to cry on her wedding day because the moment she started to cry her nose would turn bright red because of how fair she was.
Finally, during the day time, Grace would wear either light or dark pink lipsticks on most days. She believed that less was more when it came to make-up and when her daughter, Princess Caroline, started to come of age in the 1970s Grace would reportedly complain that she thought Caroline wore too much make-up, especially around her eyes. So this style of make-up in the 50s was more or less how Grace chose to wear her make-up her whole life.
Now, for evening wear or when she had to be more dressed up, Grace would lightly line her eyes with a gray eyeliner just on the top lash line and use a little more black mascara then during the day time. She would also wear a darker berry lipstick for a more glamorous look. Lipsticks were very important in the 1950s and many magazines from the time told women that they were practically naked if they left the house without face powder and lipstick on.
When it comes to brands, the 1950s gave way to some new cosmetics companies since people had more money to spend on make-up, whereas during the war in the 1940s people couldn’t afford to have more than one or two lipsticks.
According to a blog called “Hair and Makeup Artist Handbook” (http://hair-and-makeup-artist.com/womens-1950s-makeup/) most cosmetics were sold by Max Factor, Revlon, Pond, and then luxury companies Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Boots. Avon started their business in the 1950s as well. Most of the cosmetics by Max Factor or Revlon that Grace would have used in the 1950s for her movies have been discontinued. However, I can say that many of the products by Helena Rubinstein, Boots, and some of Elizabeth Arden’s products have stayed mostly the same. Once she became a princess Grace was a huge fan of Dior cosmetics (as she loved their clothes) Givenchy, and Chanel.
First I’ll start with Helena Rubinstein, a company I honestly never heard of before I started researching what products Grace wore in the 1950s. It is expensive, but has great reviews. The neat thing about Helena Rubinstein in this decade is that this brand advertised their products by telling women what color palette works best for which hair color a lady has. Here is an article about it from “Glamour Daze”, a vintage make-up blog: http://glamourdaze.com/2013/10/the-1950s-fashion-look-according-to-helena-rubinstein.html . And from this article I got a nifty chart that shows what colors Helena Rubinstein recommended for blondes, which is probably what Grace’s make-up artists went by when they picked which colors to use for her.
Of course, rules have changed and I would say that many of the colors that Grace wore would be complimentary to women with any hair color, really. Make-up artists today tend to tell women to go by the color of their eyes, not their hair. But I believe a women really needs to just wear whatever makes her feel the most confident. I have dark brown/chestnut brown hair with very fair skin and dark brown eyes with dark eyebrows and I have always found that grey is a very complimentary eye shadow for me. I’m pretty sure it would work for someone with green eyes as well and it clearly looked great on Grace with her blue eyes.
Like I mentioned before, Helena Rubenstein products can be really expensive, at least in my opinion. A dual eye shadow compact costs about $70 on average. Most of the colors I found on sale were at least $55; however, I managed to find this compact for $9.95, which is really extraordinary. And it’s the perfect shade for the 1950s Grace Kelly look, too. It’s called “Grey Glance” and is a very similar shade to what Grace would use on her entire eyelid, plus this compact has a white shimmery shade as well that can be used as a highlighter in the corner of the eyes to open your eyes a bit or under your eyebrow to give some extra shimmer and update this look a bit to make it more modern.
For Grace’s more casual daytime look I recommend “Cosmic Praline.” Here it is for $32.
Both the eye shadow and lipstick above would give you a look similar to the one in this picture of Grace:
You could also try this shade called “Luminous Coral” since coral lipstick was very, very in fashion in the 1950s.
The next brand that Grace wore often is Dior which happens to be a brand I really love, too. But again, it can be more expensive. I personally find that it is worth it to invest in good make-up, though. I used to be able to wear any brand at all until I was 24 and developed a horrible allergic reaction to cheap, drug store make-up. It makes my eyes swell shut. Now I have to do my research and make sure to choose quality make-up. Princess Diana also loved Dior clothing and cosmetics. Dior custom made an iconic purse for Diana after her divorce called “Lady Dior” that is still widely used by many celebrities today.
At my local mall a single eye shadow from Dior costs about $35 but I found it here for $25. This shade is called “Graphic Grey” and again, it looks like something Grace wore often judging by the pictures I have studied of her and other info I have read in books and articles online. I think Dior is a great quality eye shadow.
I personally really love the quad eye shadow palettes that Dior puts together because they specifically choose the colors that coordinate together and I find that it makes it easier for me when I apply it. I also like when there is a darker color in the quad that I can use to line my lash line because I don’t always want to use eyeliner. Sometimes an eye shadow can be enough to line the eye especially if you are trying to achieve the 1950s look. Many women in the 50s loved to use a lot of eyeliner for a cat eye look but Grace really didn’t do that so a quad like this one is perfect for what she would do. It’s called “Dawn Grey” and it has a nice white shadow to use as a highlighter plus a darker gray to line the eyes when you want a more dramatic look in addition to two pretty light and medium grey shades. I like it a lot.
This quad would be especially helpful if you want to achieve Grace’s nighttime look. Keeping that in mind, this beautiful lipstick by Dior called “Dolce Vita” looks like something Grace would wear. It’s a really good quality lipstick that can’t be found too easily in stores and it lines the lips nicely without having to use a lip liner with it.
Finally, this mascara is probably the best I have ever used. I first got it as a birthday gift when I was 17 and it is fantastic. Mascara was really important in the 1950s and although the kind of mascara that was used at that time is not produced anymore considering Grace’s love of Dior this mascara seems like it would be the closest modern equivalent to what she would have used.
Together the eye shadow quad, lip stick, and mascara would help you achieve the look Grace has in this picture.
Givenchy was another favorite brand of Grace’s. Audrey Hepburn also loved the brand and wore their cosmetics and their clothing. Pastel eye shadows are a very important part of the Grace Kelly, 1950s look to balance a darker lipstick. This beautiful compact from Givenchy has four lovely very light pastel shades. It looks a lot like what Grace would wear in her Alfred Hitchcock movies in the 50s.
Now, this brand was not used by Grace herself, but Nars did create a lipstick named “Grace” that does look like some of the lipsticks that Grace wore during the 1950s and I bet it would look great with the light pastels in the Givenchy quad. I think it’s a really pretty color.
Occasionally, if she attended a really glamorous evening event, Grace would wear deep red lipstick but it would always be balanced by very light eye make-up. So she would wear something similar to Givenchy’s nude eye shadow like this one:
Liquid eye liner would work as well as long as you have a very steady hand and can apply it carefully directly on the lash line.
But there is also this one by Givenchy with a really unique brush that helps curl eye lashes.
And finally, her lipstick would be something like this one. This lipstick is called “Marilyn” by Dior and was named after another fashion icon of the 50s, Marilyn Monroe. But many movie stars from this time wore this shade.
This is how Grace looked with her more glamorous, evening make-up.
I’d like to finish this blog with a few book recommendations. The first is a New York Times bestselling biography called “Grace Kelly: The Secret Lives of a Princess.” Sometimes when a person watches Grace’s movies or looks at her modeling pictures it may be easy to assume that Grace was aloof or stand-offish. And some people believe in the idea that she was an ice queen, which I think is quite unfair. James Spada debunks that myth with this biography. She was actually very witty and funny, but very shy.
“A Touch of Grace: How to Be a Princess the Grace Kelly Way” is written by film historian Cindy De La Hoz. It’s a fun little book full of trivia about Grace’s fashion and lots of quotes and personal anecdotes.
I hoped you liked this blog about Princess Grace of Monaco’s make-up and cosmetics and that it inspired you to put together your own ladylike, 1950s look. 🙂
The Frugal Lady