Glide with Grace when Tory's on your Toes

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

Sixty years ago, High Society appeared on the big screen throughout America. It was 1956. The venerable Grace Kelly, to this day the embodiment of dignified charm, waltzed from scene to scene with impeccable style, portraying the ex-wife of Bing Crosby, who didn’t have to strain to portray the role of a musician.  

While planning to marry a complete fuddy-duddy (after Bing Crosby’s madcap musician, she wants a calmer life), she delicately but directly deals with the advances of Frank Sinatra, who portrays a tabloid magazine reporter. With a cameo from Louis Armstrong, this film encapsulated the life of American nobility and its contrast with a simultaneously adoring and envious general public. 

In High Society, Grace Kelly not only commanded the attention of the three men in the film, but she captured the heart of American theater-goers. As life imitates art, Ms. Kelly was actually preparing to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco. It was bittersweet for her delighted fans, as her marriage marked the end of her Hollywood days. High Society was her last film. Since that time, filmmakers and critics alike have sought to find an actress who could balance the glamorous approachability of Grace Kelly. 

A decade passed and the search waned. The times there were a changing. For American culture, 1966 was as different from 1956 as the Hearst Castle is from a pup tent.

1966 was a year of anxiety and conflict. At home and abroad, inequality and exclusion caused turmoil and fear to spread like a California forest fire. But, like everything in life, there was also cause to celebrate. 1966 may have marked the 10th anniversary of Grace Kelly’s last appearance at the movies, but it also marked the appearance of a woman who would, many years later, pick up the mantle of dignified comfort and luxurious ease that Grace embodied. 

As Hollywood and fashion are forever entwined, so too is this post. The Spirited Table is about vanguards and traditions, but it’s also about newcomers and innovation. 

As Grace Kelly represented an era and a timeless sense of style, the woman born in 1966, I believe has repurposed that spirit of classic elegance in a modern re-telling. 

On this day, 50 years ago, Tory Burch was born. Little did the Robinson family of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania realize but their little girl would grow up to become the creator of a line of clothing that evokes memories of a head-in-the-clouds life while keeping her (and her customer’s) feet firmly planted on the ground. She accomplishes this with her now iconic flats, pictured below. Sturdy yet flexible, stylish yet practical, one can easily picture Ms. Kelly sporting a pair of Tory’s “Reva Flats” to dinner or an afternoon picnic with the Prince. 

Sixty years ago, Grace Kelly exited the spotlight. Fifty years ago, Tory Burch entered the world. In the interim, much has changed for women in America. No matter the changes and challenges we still face as a society, there will always be a place for High Society. There will always be a place for glamorous approachability. 

It’s comforting to know that Ms. Burch came along to provide the wardrobe that, like the Spirited Table, spans the generations with charm, elegance, and a perfect taste for the times.