No other creative director in the fashion industry is quite as iconic (or as synonymous with fanciful and brilliant imagery) as Grace Coddington.
Born in April 1941 to Welsh parents in Anglesey and taught at a strict Catholic convent, Grace lived very far away from the wondrous world of high fashion and would order her Vogues 3 months late, because it had to go on “rush-copy.” But Grace would not let that bog her down and she had big dreams and lots of vision and confidence in herself. She had ambition and determination and would not let anything bring her down!
At the age of 17, she was entered by a friend into Vogue’s model competition and she won the Young Model section. This was the very beginning of her life long career in the fashion industry and her initiation into a world of luxury and beauty that she then could not even begin to imagine!
Then fast forward a decade, at the age of 28, she was interviewd by then-British Vogue editor-in-chief Beatrix Miller and hired as a Junior Editor. After 19 years of working as a Photo Editor for British Vogue, she went over with Anna Wintour in July 1988 to American Vogue and became the Creative Director.
This is when Grace really came into her own, began to really shine and produced some of the most iconic imagery in fashion of all time. She would never spare any expense when it came to creative vision and she has always been an exacting tastemaster. Whether it is jeans and a pair of sneakers or a brilliantly beautiful couture gown by John Galliano for Dior, Grace can perfectly put together any and everything!
She has put together looks and sets for editorials like the 1920’s story for the September 2007 issue, Drew Barrymore for the Beauty and the Beast story in April 2005, Natalia Vodianova for the Alice and Wonderland story in December 2003, the ever-infamous grunge editorial back in 1992 and the photoshoot of Jerry Hall in bright red in front of a Soviet Union monument back in 1976. Her images she produces are never sharp and precise, but always slightly blurry and very whimsical.
Grace Coddington always took risks during her long and fruitful career in fashion and she is not afraid to be different. She goes full speed ahead regardless of what is commercially sucessful or not and she refuses to be a sell-out, to the point where her and the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour had a few run-ins in “The September Issue” documentary that chartered the making of the then biggest ever issue of Vogue!
Grace is famous for her quirkiness, her trademark of frizzy and voluminous red hair and her love for cats, especially her cat Pumpkin. She is so obsessed with cats in fact, that her entire apartment is filled with them and is also covered in depictions of different felines. It is an amazing house filled with treasure troves and all of those little trinkets and forget me nots that she holds so dear to her and holds true sentimental value to her.
She has even written several books that have been published by Phaidon, like “The Catwalk Cats,” which is a book she had published about her fabulous cats back in 2006 and her book “Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue,” which was published back in 2002.” This second book has a black cover and an illustration of her with her fabulous red frizz, of course!
Having had such a prolific and colorful career in the fashion industry, it had been sadly the case that Grace Coddington has no longer been as actively involved in fashion since her stepping down from her career and work as the senior Creative Director of US Vogue back in January of last year. The fashion world truly mourns the void she has left in her departure, but will no doubt remember all of the amazing contributions she has made to the glamorous and high-octane world of fashion.
Grace, you are the reason I started reading Vogue! We all love you… don’t you forget that!