Vogue’s longtime creative director and onetime model, Grace Coddington, is the woman whose sense of style has shaped fashion for decades. As her memoirs are published, the red haired stylist talks about race, weight, her love for cats and how to stand up to Anna Wintour.
“If Wintour is the Pope … Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.”—Time Magazine
Left: Grace Coddington photographed by Peter Akehurst, 1961
Right: Grace Coddington photographed by Ronald Traeger Vogue Italia, July 1967
The auto-biographic book goes through her modeling years and focus on her career on the american Vogue, where she's been since 1988, how she turned into an icon, her relationship with her pears, how she sees fashion today and so on.
Left: Grace on her first British Vogue cover, August 1962
From what I've read so far, I loved every word. She shares her thoughts in a funny way and this is my favorite excerpt:
«Fashion has changed so much in my lifetime. Today I find myself at the collections, asking: “Who are all these people?” They appear to come from anywhere and everywhere, and 90% seem to be uninvited hangers-on. Sometimes I think I’m the last remaining person who goes to the shows for the pleasure of seeing the clothes, rather than desperately wanting to be there for the social side – which is the part of things I have always had to be dragged to, kicking and screaming. And everyone has an opinion! Before the television interviewers and film cameras came along, people kept themselves to themselves. But now when they turn up to fashion shows, all they want to do is talk and talk. Or be filmed answering inane questions.
Everyone has a mobile phone or camera, including all the models getting ready behind the scenes, so everyone knows exactly what’s happening in real time. There are no secrets any more – everything has been texted, tweeted or emailed all over the world way before the show has even begun. There are probably more pictures taken behind the scenes than of the models on the runway.
I used to see every show in the New York collections, but these days I’m much more selective, partly because the experience has become so trying. Giveaway gossip papers like The Daily are constantly being pushed in your face, and cheap champagne is handed out at 9am – with the English fashionistas being the first to gulp it down. As you dodge the movie cameras on your way in, there is usually some starlet of the moment surrounded by photographers and planted in the middle of the runway, hindering everyone else from getting to their seats. I can’t stand it, so I usually put the blinders on and rush straight through. Before the show, there is that intensely irritating moment when the photographers yell out: “Uncross your legs!” What I usually think is “Screw you!”, because if my legs were really in the way I would know it.
Each ready-to-wear season I usually fill one sketchbook per city – Paris, Milan, New York – plus one for each season's couture, resort and cruise. So that makes 12 sketchbooks a year, and they can all get pretty full. My system at the shows is to draw, sketch, put down everything – every single outfit – and worry later whether I liked it or not. Occasionally I will put a star next to a favourite. Because I don't write about fashion, I don't take notes. I find it faster and easier to draw a dolman sleeve, for example, than to describe it. It was simpler in the old days, when there weren't so many collections and most people showed a maximum of 30 outfits.
I do become terribly intense when I'm drawing anything complicated or intellectually challenging, such as the Prada or Balenciaga collection, and I get extremely irritated if I'm in the middle of it and people talk to me, disturbing my concentration. Most other people these days don't take notes, because they look at the internet, with its bloggers and instant information, and most freelance stylists don't even bother coming to the shows. But I have to see them. They're easier for me to absorb if I'm there. On a flat screen, things look flat. I don't think I could recognise a great collection if I just saw it on a screen or in a look book.»
Grace Coddington nowadays
OMG, she's so damn funny and sarcastic. Guess what? Some of her drawings also take on a distinctly personal and often humorous tone. From childhood memories to her first day on the job as both a model and fashion editor, even her big loves (including, of course, her cats), there are remarkable, hand-drawn pictures that reveal another dimension to an already fascinating woman. That's why I needed to share these amazing brilliant images drew by Grace Coddington herself. Honestly, I rolled on the floor laughing... and I did this whole post on her Memoirs as an excuse to share these drawings.
From left to right:
Manolo Blahnik, Anna Piaggi, Pat Cleveland,
Antonio Lopez, Donna Jordan and Karl Lagerfeld