Grace Coddington, a legend in her own time (part 2)

7 Oct

Patsy Stone, television character in Absolutely Fabulous, referred to Grace, her idol, as ‘Fash Ed. Supreme’.

Julie Kavanagh, Grace Coddington’s assistant in the 1970s and a friend ever since:‘Working for Grace converted me to fashion overnight. It was simply the power of Grace’s personality and style. “Fashion isn’t just frocks,” Grace has always maintained. “It’s how we do our houses, our gardens, it’s what we eat and drink.” 

Documentary The September Issue

In January 2009 the documentary The September Issue premieres at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary, about the making of the important September issue of American Vogue (2007), highlights Grace Coddington instead of her boss Anna Wintour.

Amongst other things the documentary features a difference of opinion between Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington. During a photo shoot Grace asks the camera man of the film crew to star in the shoot together with the model, jumping and filming at the same time. When Anna Wintour views the photo, she doesn’t approve of the camara men’s ‘ big belly’ and orders it to be photoshopped. Grace gets furious when she is informed about this and persuades the staff member not to photoshop the picture…

Some of Grace’s work for Vogue

Vogue colleagues and collaborators on Grace and her work


Some quotes from an interview with Grace Coddington on Huffington , posted October 22, 2009 by author, journalist, contributing style editor Lesley Blume.

On photographer Irving Penn:

“It was one the great joys of my life to work with him.  He had a tiny, tiny studio, minimal lights, minimal people.  Everyone was very focused and he produced these extraordinary pictures.  I don’t know how he did it …  He was the last of those great photographers like Avedon and Helmut and all those guys; I’m sad to see them go … It’s our challenge now to find more and more and something different [and] I know we’ll find another way, but there will never be another Penn.”

On photographer Bruce Weber:

“He taught me so much about America, [and gave me] a whole new way of looking at things.  He was really responsible for scrubbing everyone’s faces, for fresh-looking women who you could touch, making them look vulnerable.”

On photographer David Sims:

“He’s much younger than me, and it’s a challenge.  I have to keep on my toes and be modern and keep up with him.  He’ll talk for three hours about a white background and I’m trying to go along with him and understand, and then we end up with a white background.  But I could do the same shot with a different photographer and it wouldn’t look the same.  He has that undefinable modern edge.”

On how celebrity culture is affecting the fashion world:

“I have the reputation of not working with [celebrities] … I just feel more comfortable working with models because I can push them around.   But I do work with them; I took Keira Knightley to Africa and you have to like someone to do that.  [However,] I hope it doesn’t go completely to the celebs because it will kill off the models, but it’s not my call.  It’s all your call.  It’s what you all are asking for.”

Grace and her beloved cats

In 2006 the book The Catwalk Cats was published. It is based on 20 years’ worth of sketches and notes she has faxed to her husband while they were apart. “Instead of calling him when I was in Milan or when he was traveling in India, I would do a sketch of where I was and put the cats in my place”. Didier Malige (her husband) photographs accompany Grace’s drawings throughout the book. Grace is well-known for her love for cats and so is Didier.

In 2012 Grace has designed a capsule collection with Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga named after her cat, Pumpkin. The line of scarves and bags will feature Coddington’s drawings of her petit chat modeling various Balenciaga looks from the past decade. Central to the new accessories line is the “Pumpkin Papier” tote bag and two printed “Pumpkin” scarves round out the collection, one in a classic silk twill and one in fringed wool and silk. (20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons)

Books on Grace Coddington’s work and life:
Grace, Thirty years of Fashion at Vogue was published in 2002.
It’s not only a collection of Coddington’s greatest work, it is a visual reminiscence of her life in fashion.

Grace, A Memoir will be published November 20, 2012   ( ISBN: 978-0-8129-9335-6)

Random House has offered Coddington a reported $1.2 million book deal for a tell-all memoir…. If Wintour is the Pope . . . Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.”—Time

The divine Brassai-inspired 1920s-in-Paris spread. Title: Paris, je t’aime  Photographer: Steven Meisel

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