Admit it — you didn’t know who Grace Coddington was until you saw The September Issue. But that’s OK. Since the movie came out she’s been making up for decades of denying that she’s a celebrity and doing things like an interesting profile in Intelligent Life, a supplement to The Economist.
The profile, penned by former Coddington assistant Julie Kavanagh (who’s now the London editor of Vanity Fair), details Coddington’s decades in fashion, and explains how she’s transformed from one the most quietly influential people in the industry to one of its stars. A lot of it comes from hard work, and some of it comes from working in the industry for so long, both as a model and as a fashion editor. But mostly, it’s from her looking at fashion as something magical and fun rather than as a business. Below, some of our favorite bits of the piece, including the time she did a beach shoot with Manolo Blahnik, the time she quit working for Anna Wintour and why she needs to slow down — just a little bit.
On playing on the beach with Manolo Blahnik.
For a cover, she got David Bailey to shoot the actress Anjelica Huston enfolded in the arms of the shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, in a kitschy pose against a Corsican coastal sunset. Grace bursts out laughing when I remind her. “It was pretty ridiculous—there’s no one more camp than Manolo. He brought his own clothes and took far more of my time discussing what he was going to wear than Anjelica did. To shut him up we buried him in the sand, with only his head and spotted handkerchief showing.”
That time she quit working for Anna.
At British Vogue, Grace creates a startling series of “sprawling, National Geographic-style photo essays—more than 20 pages long—in which the clothes were so smoothly integrated they barely registered as fashion photographs at all”, as the fashion writer Michael Roberts put it. In March 1986, Anna Wintour becomes editor-in-chief. Grace resigns in December: “Anna was much more into ‘sexy’ than I was.” (Coddington rejoined Wintour at American Vogue in 1988.)
On getting older.
“I got really sick last time in Paris, and I was on antibiotics for two months. I push my body too hard, and do have to stop myself now from jumping on a plane. It used to be me who got sent to Russia and China while the older editors like Sheila Whetton stayed behind: but I’m one of those older ones now.”
Read the rest of Coddington’s profile here.
Grace Coddington: Creative Indeed [Intelligent Life]