If you were fortunate enough to see the documentary film, The September Issue, which presented an inside view of planning the famed September issues of American Vogue magazine, then you would be familiar with the extraordinary talent and exceptional charm of Grace Coddington.
Born in Wales on April 20, 1941, as a young girl Grace became enthralled with fashion and style either through the films shown at the local cinema or the pages of the Vogue magazines she so earnestly sort. ‘I bought it for the fantasy of looking at beautiful clothes and I liked getting lost in its pages’.
But it was the photographs themselves that captured her most. ‘They transported me to all sorts of exotic places – places where you could wear that kind of thing.’
Around her 17th year, Grace won the Young Model section of a competition conducted by British Vogue and so began her modelling career.
By 1960 Grace was featuring in British Vogue and by 1962 had done covers for both Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.
This expanded by 1967 to include French Elle (thousand’s issue) and Queen. At around this time, Grace was appearing in hair shows for Vidal Sassoon, whose geometric cuts were becoming famous. He created an avant garde style especially for Grace which was then called the Five Point Cut.
A car accident interrupted her modelling career leaving her with facial and head injuries. With the assistance of plastic surgery and employing admirable pluck, Grace sallied forward to continue modelling in both London and Paris until becoming fashion editor at British Vogue in 1968, a position she held for nineteen years.
Enticed to New York as design director for Calvin Klein in 1986, after two years she was invited to become the creative director of American Vogue, a position which she still maintains.
Grace’s exceptional creative talent takes the shoots she directs from the ordinary to the extraordinary. She brings a power of precision to everything she does.
Romantic and quixotic, at times allegorical she weaves the dream with her own unique ability often imbuing humour and wit as she creates sheer escapism.
Her personal style is pared back and tailored with no nonsense good taste. Red lipstick and understated jewellery complete her confident look. But it’s perhaps her striking red hair and the way in which she fashions it that reveals the passionate romantic who dwells beneath.
Her memoir, Grace, was published in November 2012 and is great read, peppered with her sharp wit and personally illustrated. This is the work of woman who enables us to lose ourselves in the magic of her visual story telling.
To enjoy more of Grace Coddington and her extraordinary body of work, view the video clip below.
Brilliant and inspiring, she has no equal.