Pearls, The Sublime Aesthetic, And the Classic Beauty of Grace Kelly
Who are some of our favorite girls in pearls? We adore our Lady Dianas, our Marilyn Monroes, and our Jackie-O’s. But what is it that draws us to these women? It is not Diana’s, Marilyn’s, or Jackie-O’s money that attracts the glances of the bourgeois. Money is an antiquated relic that is insipid and uninspiring. We seek the class, charm, elegance, and style of these worldly beauties. All the money in the world could provide for you the tasteless glitz of excessive diamonds and precious metals in your grill (if you are a truly tacky rap star with a platinum encrusted mouth), but that devilishly seductive ethereality will be missing from the equation. Perhaps this phenomenon deserves a closer look……
Of all these 20th century elegant beauties, my favorite of all is Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly’s beauty was sublime. Her beauty leaves an observer in absolute awe. Consider when Kelly first appears in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. When we first see her, her image is breathtaking. Her beauty in the scene elicits the purest aesthetic emotion – one melts at the sight of her. In this shot as she enters Jimmy Stewart’s dark room the camera moves to her and the scene as a whole heightens and physically brightens. I suppose a question we should be asking is, what is contributing to her illuminating quality?
Grace Kelly is wearing a taught pearl necklace that illuminates her soft and gentle beauty. It is a sort of passive aggressive sexuality, but I think it is the most intense and assertive sort of sexuality because such a sight leaves an imprint on the viewer’s mind. Kelly is the type of beauty that burns the retina. Her come-ons to Stewart may not be outwardly physically aggressive, but the psychological impact leaves any man overcome and powerless when someone like Kelly facilitates this passive seduction. Seductions like these resonate in the recesses of the mind and often surface in dreams. My unrequited love for Grace Kelly remains undaunted. Women like Grace Kelly know what their presence does to people of any time or place, and especially to admirers such as myself.
It is interesting that Grace Kelly chose to wear pearls. I think Karl Marx is on to something when he considers the fetishistic qualities of commodities. Indeed it is not necessarily the use-value of an object, but its metaphysical quality that plays with our thoughts. I think what surfaces through the commodification of pearls is indeed this abstract. Pearls are this sort of enabling commodity and Kelly’s pearl necklace and presence in that scene in Rear Window is a testament to this. I think, worn with confidence, any woman can pull off this metaphysical grace that Kelly has embodied with her pearls.
Grace Kelly’s beauty is a classic beauty we have lost to the insistent images of drug-thin chic runway models of the 80s through the plastic bunnies of the early 21st century. There are many Grace-Kelly-beauties out there that do not know what they have working for them because our culture through the channels of pop media is trying to tell us that trendy notions of beauty are what we should always be striving to resemble. Classic beauty is classic because it is timeless. The secret of that classic beauty is it has that passive psychological power. This beauty is much more intense than having your eye poked out by a pair of plastic torpedos mounted on a south beach bottle-blonde.
This image, this aura, that Grace Kelly radiates has become increasingly obtainable through commodity. With the reduced costs of pearls for consumers, anyone has the ability to be this beautiful and glamorous. The truly tasteful know how glamorous the warm glow of a string of white pearls is comparable to the loud glitter of a diamond. Let’s face it…. either diamonds or pearls may be seen as nothing more than pressed dirt and dust over a long period of time (perhaps this is cynical and reductionist) but the fact remains pearls are enchanting to us. Diamonds may be forever or even a girl’s best friend – or maybe they are nothing more than an overpriced status symbol, or a symbol of old world institutions in extreme duress (has anyone else noticed the emphasis on the size of an engagement rock rather than the compatibility of the parties involved?) Though they might not be most immediate jewel that holds the limelight, pearls are a seductive muse that radiate and glow on the periphery of our fashion culture. This is what makes pearls alluring for a sensual aesthete. Ladies, go ahead, wear your pearls. With them you are as irresistible as the muses were for Odysseus….. or as Grace Kelly is for anyone.