Princess Grace & The Origins of Monaco’s Diagonal Design

Monaco’s red and white shirts are famed throughout the world, but comparatively few football fans will know the origins of their unique diagonal design.

As if to mirror the principality’s clichéd status as a playground for the rich and famous, there’s always been something quite alluring about AS Monaco and their football shirts.

Under the nine arches of the Stade Louis II – a stadium that rose from the cool waters of the Mediterranean – a galaxy of footballing superstars from Hoddle, Weah and Henry, to Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappé have worn the club’s famous red and white shirts.

Monaco, Nike, 1989-90, Maillot, Shirt, Lada, Soccer,
Nike’s wonderful 1989-90 shirt

Les Monégasques were established in November 1924 as the Association Sportive de Monaco after a series of mergers between local teams and would soon incorporate AS Monaco FC, themselves founded in 1919; to form the club we know today.

For the first 36 years of their history, Monaco wore a number of combinations of the red and white colours of the principality’s flag before settling on the striped formation still seen on the club’s crest.

The more prestigious look we know today, was actually created by Princess Grace in tribute to the club’s first Coupe de France crown in 1960.

Monaco, AS Monaco, maillot, football shirt, Coupe de France
Monaco wore red & white striped shirts for their maiden Coupe de France victory in 1960

Monaco’s Royal family had become close to the club and it was Prince Rainier III who suggested changing the red and white stripes, for something a little more unique, individual and a little less Stoke City on a Tuesday night.

Princess Grace imagined an entirely new image for the club, inspired by the red and white diamonds of the coat of arms of the principality, which she used to create the famous diagonal.

When Monaco followed that French Cup triumph with their maiden league title in 1960-61, the good luck charm of the striking new strip was formally adopted as their official home colours.

AS Monaco, 1960-61, Ligue 1, Champions, Princess Grace, Maillot, Shirt, Jersey
The Princess Grace designed shirts as worn by Monaco in the 1960-61 French championship winning season

Prior to life in the principality, Grace Kelly had been an Oscar-winning actress known for films including High Noon and High Society who turned her back on Hollywood aged 26, to marry Prince Rainier III in 1956.

She resisted all attempts to coax her out of retirement and threw herself into her royal duties and remained one of the most glamorous and photographed women of the 20th Century until her tragic death in 1982.

No stranger to fashion, she turned the flag of Monaco and the colours of the House of Grimaldi around by 45° so that red covered the heart side of the shirt and white starred across the bottom.

Princess Grace of Monaco
Princess Grace of Monaco

At this point, it’s probably worth paying tribute to the club for deciding to go with the Royal couple’s vision in the first place.

It would have been easy to disregard a shirt so distinctive and moan that “that’s not how we do things round here” but instead, they embraced the elegance and gained an important part of their heritage in the process.

Without the imagination of Princess Grace, AS Monaco would have missed out on a major part of their identity.

Monaco, Puma, Champions League final, shirt, maillot, 2004
Les Monégasques‘ 2004 Champions League Final shirt by Puma

Les Rouges et Blancs’ (The Red and Whites) colours have evolved over time to incorporate features of modern football fashion including sponsor’s logos and a variety of fabrics.

The influence is such that whenever a club such as Rangers or Arsenal adopt a diagonal design, we naturally describe it as being in the “Monaco-style.”

The House of Grimaldi still owns roughly a 3rd of the club’s shares and whilst they will occasionally wear a version of the red and white stripes as part of a change kit; to our mind, Monaco just wouldn’t be Monaco without that legendary Princess Grace designed diagonal home shirt.

Monaco, Bally, Le Coq Sportif, Maillot, 1980s, Shirt
As if they needed to add to their glamour, Les Rouges et Blancs were sponsored by luxury Swiss fashion house Bally during the early 1980s

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