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17-11-2012
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nytimes.com

Always In Fashion

Grace Coddington, the longtime creative director at Vogue, on West 12th Street in New York. A former model, she has written a memoir entitled “Grace.”

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By ALEXANDRA JACOBS
“I’M not good with words,” Grace Coddington said. The longtime creative director of Vogue was picking at a salad in her office on the 12th floor of the Condé Nast building, having pulled down a shade to block the early-afternoon sunshine. She was detailing her dread of, among other matters, the scheduled promotional tour for her new memoir, “Grace.” Random House reportedly paid $1.2 million for the book, and the publisher is understandably eager to protect its investment.
“They gave me media training,” Ms. Coddington said. “And I was a total failure. They were like, ‘Oh, can’t say that, oh, you can’t say that, and it’s not politically correct to say that, and don’t swear.’ But I swear like a trooper.”
She apologetically pried a piece of spinach from her teeth as her assistant, Stella Greenspan, a fetching 6-foot-1 sylph wearing a schoolgirl kilt, giggled from her desk facing Ms. Coddington’s — a setup in striking contrast to the impassive sentries outside the office of Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief.
Of course, Ms. Coddington’s frankness and profanity, as well as her differences from her boss, are precisely what first endeared her to a mass audience three years ago, when she emerged as the unexpected breakout star of R. J. Cutler’s documentary about Vogue, “The September Issue.” Sticking up for kooky clothes, like a sweater appliquéd with pink “jazz hands”; arguing against airbrushing a cameraman’s protruding stomach; talking back to Ms. Wintour in a way few seem to dare, she emerged as a standard-bearer of aesthetic integrity in an increasingly fickle industry, not to mention an ardent opponent of celebrity culture.
“Life is ironic, isn’t it?” Ms. Coddington said. Early in the memoir, she describes feeling a sudden disorienting affinity with the Beatles and Paris Hilton after “The September Issue” screened, mugging for cellphone cameras as she walked around downtown with Nicolas Ghesquière, the designer recently departed from Balenciaga and a close friend.
More recently, she said, it was Mr. Ghesquière who invited her to take refuge at the Carlyle hotel after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power in the downtown apartment she shares with her boyfriend, the hairdresser Didier Malige (who was traveling in Europe), and their two cats, Bart and Pumpkin.
“There was a whole scene there: every fashion person, every wannabe. I could name a few names,” Ms. Coddington said, though (applying a little media training, perhaps) she refrained. She never would have left the cats by themselves overnight, she added with horror. “I just sat with him, and had a bath in his room, and lunch there, and next thing I know I read in The Post that I’m moving into the Carlyle. Well, guess what? I’m not that rich.”
Indeed, Ms. Coddington sometimes fantasizes about fleeing such tableaux of urban sophistication entirely. “If you could just beam me up, Scotty — that probably doesn’t mean anything to you,” she said, arching an eyebrow at Ms. Greenspan, and continued: “Beam me up to Devon or Cornwall in England, I think it would be wonderful, but I’d have to live in a village. I couldn’t live in the middle of a field or something.”
The once-cozy little village of fashion, she suggested, has in recent years morphed into a sprawling neon megalopolis. Reporters, photographers and hangers-on now hound her at shows, demanding immediate verdicts on the clothes that she diligently sketches from the front row, a lone old-media holdout in a world of tweeters and Instagrammers. “They think I’m everybody’s property,” Ms. Coddington said. “You’re like public domain. And I think that’s disgusting.”
Speaking on the phone a few days later, Ms. Wintour was milder about the movie’s aftereffects. “All of us in the industry know what a rock star she is,” she said of her colleague. “And now she’s a national figure, a worldwide figure. And I think it’s marvelous that she’s getting this recognition and admiration, but it’s never been anything that she’s run after — never, ever.”
Ms. Coddington’s ambivalence toward her heightened profile is understandable: her job is, by its very definition, behind the scenes, conceiving, styling and overseeing shoots by fashion’s foremost photographers, including Arthur Elgort, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz. (So deferential is Ms. Coddington to their egos, at least professionally, that she organized a 2002 limited-edition retrospective volume of her work, published by Karl Lagerfeld and currently selling on Amazon for as much as $4,499, by photographer rather than theme or decade.) Yet it is far from the first moment in the spotlight for the fashion editor, who was born Pamela Rosalind Grace Coddington 71 years ago in Anglesey, an island off the northern coast of Wales.
The younger and taller of two sisters, she was raised during World War II by the proprietors of a ramshackle hotel, sailing and sewing her own clothes — a sort of low-rent Eloise stranded on a place whose foggy, melancholic chill seems to inform many of her layouts. They also often include a note of whimsy, though: Stella Tennant plunging into a swimming pool wearing tweeds and Wellington boots (Mr. Elgort, 1995); Natalia Vodianova as Alice in Wonderland (Ms. Leibovitz, 2003); Raquel Zimmermann dwarfed by an enormous chunky scarf (Craig McDean, 2007).
“There’s such a sense of positivity to what she does,” Ms. Wintour said. “She’s never subscribed to, you know, angst and worry in her shoots. I feel that there’s a lightness to them — a sense of hope.”
Grace’s mother painted, wove tapestries and accumulated clutter. Her father died when she was 11 (she was not permitted to attend his funeral), and she attended a strict convent school, though the nuns occasionally roller-skated, wimples and all.
She escaped Anglesey, where, she writes, “you could end up working in either a clock factory or a snack bar,” by enrolling at the Cherry Marshall modeling school on Grosvenor Street in London, enraptured by the images she had pored over in copies of Vogue that trickled into the pokey local post office.
Pale and auburn-haired, Ms. Coddington thrived in the swinging ’60s, when she lugged around her own makeup and accessories in a suitcase and was occasionally asked to gambol naked by a randy photographer. “It’s very changed, the model world,” she said. “Just the speed of everything. It’s become, I guess, so much more professional, but it also takes the soul out, and has produced all these girls that are just dispensable. In those days, you had a girl who could develop and had a personality. I think it was more fun then.”
Nicknamed the Cod, as Jean Shrimpton had been the Shrimp before her, Ms. Coddington hit all the period’s hallmarks of pleasure in style: making out with Mick Jagger (though she ditched him for her boyfriend at the time, Albert Koski, a photographer’s agent); wearing the latest angular mod ensembles to Parisian nightclubs; and — in a career-booster that presaged Linda Evangelista 20 years later — getting her hair cropped into Vidal Sassoon’s “five point” coif.
“She wasn’t a great model, but she always had her own peculiar taste,” said the photographer David Bailey, who has worked with her on both sides of the camera and who fondly remembered a riotous trip to Corsica with Ms. Coddington and Manolo Blahnik.
But there was significant trauma as well, most notably the car accident that sliced off her left eyelid.
“Luckily, they found my eyelashes,” coolly writes Ms. Coddington, adding that she endured five subsequent plastic surgeries (undaunted, she invented a form of elaborate eye makeup later attributed to Twiggy).
There was also a late-term miscarriage, she writes, the day after her car was mobbed by Chelsea soccer fans, and a discovery that Mr. Koski, by then her fiancé, was having an affair with Catherine Deneuve’s sister, Françoise Dorléac, who died in a car accident not long after. Her sister, Rosemary, also died relatively young, after a period of drug abuse.
But Ms. Coddington is not one to wallow in loss. “A lot of people said, ‘You got sort of hit on the head and moved on quickly,’ ” she said, “and I say, ‘Well, I’m not going to grind it in, say, poor me, poor me.’ Boring!” She had brief marriages to the restaurateur Michael Chow (during their honeymoon, inauspiciously, she contracted chickenpox) and the photographer Willie Christie (she also helped raise one of two nephews, Tristan, to adulthood).
Now, she writes, she has achieved a “gentle equilibrium” with Mr. Malige, with whom she collaborated on “The Catwalk Cats,” a book containing cartoons of their pets. In her office are framed pictures of cats, bookends shaped like cats and a 1950s lamp with a red base in the shape of a cat.
“There’s a hell of a lot of junk in here,” she said. “It’s a terrible, terrible mess, because I’m multitasking.”
After aging out of modeling, Ms. Coddington took a styling job at British Vogue, which was then a far more amateurish, casual operation than its American counterpart. “Everything was deemed ‘impossible’ or ‘ooh, I don’t think so,’ ” Ms. Coddington writes in “Grace,” “and the solution to most problems was, ‘Mmmm, let’s have a nice cup of tea.’ ”
But it was there that she developed the hands-on eclectic methods that would become her signature: haunting flea markets on Kings Road, once applying makeup to Prince Charles and developing serial devotions to designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo and Azzedine Alaïa, along with attention to detail and a low-key tenacity. “She’s one of the most persistent people I’ve ever met, but she does it in her own quiet Welsh way,” Mr. Bailey said. Her growing portfolio included Norman Parkinson, Helmut Newton and Bruce Weber.
“She was the grand lady of British Vogue,” said Ms. Wintour, who at the time was rising through the ranks at Harpers & Queen. “I was a very lowly assistant.” This pecking order, needless to say, was not to last.
When Ms. Wintour herself came to British Vogue as editor, Ms. Coddington, uneasy with the new management, took a gig at Calvin Klein, whose minimalist ethos, at least to a layperson’s eye, could not be more at odds with her generally florid sensibility. (Perhaps her most memorable work for him was on the Eternity fragrance campaign, photographed by Richard Avedon.) “I felt a little confined,” she said.
And so after Ms. Wintour ascended to American Vogue in 1988, Ms. Coddington was ready to assume a place in the royal court that includes looming personalities like André Leon Talley (“closer to her than any husband,” she writes of his relationship to Ms. Wintour) and Hamish Bowles, whom she describes “flouncing away” from a particularly problematic Leibovitz shoot.
Though Ms. Coddington insists in the book that “I care whether anyone — from the mailman to the dry cleaner — likes me,” she also dishes with relish, describing Madonna’s pique at being asked to wear a hat that looked like a “cream cake” and calling the designers Viktor & Rolf “prissy.”
On Ms. Leibovitz: “Not exactly the happy partyish type at the best of times.” On the outfits of Vogue-ettes at one Met gala: “From the back it looked like a convention of hookers.” On Ms. Wintour: “With men she’s very seductive, even if they’re one hundred percent gay.”
Over the years, as Mr. Cutler illuminated, the two women have developed a kind of exasperated but productive yin-yang dynamic, down to their style of dress. Ms. Coddington tends these days toward anonymous black, a color so deplored by Ms. Wintour that underlings have been known to warn guests not to wear it to social functions she is hosting. But “black is very forgiving,” said Ms. Coddington, who was swathed in it. “I’m hugely heavy” — Ms. Greenspan gave a little mewl of protest — “and the scale goes up and up and up. I’m sure it’s stress.”
Ms. Wintour, for whom the scale never seems to budge, promotes fur and bling; Ms. Coddington is averse to both. One of Ms. Wintour’s many former assistants wrote the best-selling roman à clef “The Devil Wears Prada”; one of Ms. Coddington’s, Julie Kavanagh, wrote a gushing 70th-birthday paean to her in More Intelligent Life. Ms. Wintour perpetually peppers her magazine with the famous. “She gets these occasional crushes — Ben [Stiller], Puff Daddy, Roger Federer,” writes Ms. Coddington, who tends to disdain Hollywood actors and their publicity entourages. (Though she had no trouble picturing who might play her in a movie of her storied life: “Karen Elson is what everyone says, and Julianne Moore when I’m older — in my dreams!”)
ON the phone, Mr. Cutler, who had previously compared the current staff of Vogue to an all-star baseball team, refined the metaphor further. “Though I don’t think of them at all as rivals, in thinking of Anna and Grace’s relationship, I was reminded of what McEnroe said about Borg, which is that if Borg hadn’t retired early, he would’ve been a much better tennis player and a better human being,” he said. “I do think these women bring each other to new heights.”
Which is Ms. Coddington? “McEnroe,” Mr. Cutler said.
Though retirement from Vogue may be within her sights, Ms. Coddington deferred any characterization of herself as a genius to the designers whose creations she has devoted the better part of her life promoting. She named the stalwarts Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada as favorites and mourned the many others currently out of commission, for whatever reason. “John Galliano, whom I adored — gone; Helmut Lang, major talent — gone,” she said. “Hopefully Nicolas won’t just give up and walk away. He’s too good, too strong, too brilliant, too passionate.”
And what of the up-and-comers? “I think they need time, and I think too many of the young designers really think that they can step right out of school and be a best seller, and that’s a mistake,” Ms. Coddington said. “I mean, you know, Nicolas took forever to get where he was. Marc got fired 10 times before he made it.”
Anyway, it wouldn’t hurt young designers, or anyone for that matter, to have “a few things going wrong in their life,” she said. “I mean, I hate to say it, but it teaches you a hell of a lot, you know.”

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17-11-2012
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^there are also several pics that come with that article, which can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/201...118_GRACE.html

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17-11-2012
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The Wise Up Issue: Grace Coddington



idonline.com

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18-11-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newhouse View Post
btw, Bart says, "Hi".



source: my scan
Oops! I meant "Puff" ..that's not Bart.

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18-11-2012
  245
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She is just so beautiful.

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18-11-2012
  246
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She is, even more so in motion. I was struck by how Elizabethan she looks in The September Issue

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18-11-2012
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Grace is just wonderful. that id cover is so cute.

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05-12-2012
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screening of In Vogue: The Editor's Eye held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday (December 4) in New York City




vogue.ru


Last edited by MartiniKiss; 05-12-2012 at 01:46 AM.
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11-12-2012
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beautiful coat, she looks really fantastic here

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11-12-2012
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Interview December 2012/January 2013
Grace Coddington
Photographer:
Craig McDean
Stylist: Elin Svahn
Hair: Julien d'Ys


interviewmagazine.com

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04-01-2013
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^ Gosh these pictures are ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!

I hope I can age so gracefully and beautifully. I really want to read her memoir. It will be different that the Catwalk Cats I presume. Although I love that and cherish my copy!

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04-01-2013
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I absolutely love the shot of Grace on the subway!

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09-01-2013
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Gorgeous coat in #247!

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09-01-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Not Plain Jane View Post
^ Gosh these pictures are ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!

I hope I can age so gracefully and beautifully. I really want to read her memoir. It will be different that the Catwalk Cats I presume. Although I love that and cherish my copy!
I just read her memoir and it's AMAZING! I can only recommend it.

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11-01-2013
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My mam got me her memoir for christmas, really enjoyed it

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