“If Wintour is the Pope . . . , Coddington is Michelangelo,
trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.”
-Mary Pols, Time
Born in Anglesey, Wales, Grace Coddington was the shy daughter of a hotel owner. She spent her childhood playing on the beach and becoming enthralled with British Vogue (reading issues that often arrived at the local store three months late). She would become a model, a fashion editor and then the creative force behind American Vogue as we know her today.
Coddington certainly has a fascinating life and an impressive artistic vision. She’s worked behind the scenes at Vogue creating the most beautiful stories with the world’s best photographers, and highlighting the fashion of the moment at the same time. One of my favorite spreads of hers is a Beauty and the Beast themed editorial, shown in the image above (photographed by Annie Leibovitz and modeled by Drew Barrymore). See the full spread here.
She also wrote an autobiography that I’m putting on my reading list — Grace: A Memoir — where she recounts her life influencing fashion. There are many facets of her story I’m interested to learn more about.
After winning a category in British Vogue’s modeling contest, she would appear in the magazine’s Young Idea section. A muse to Vidal Sassoon, the stylist cut her hair into a geometric bob that would become the famous “Five-Point Cut,” and catapulted Grace’s modeling career. Even a serious car accident that required reconstructive surgeries couldn’t keep her from a successful modeling career.
If you haven’t seen The September Issue, the documentary highlighting the production of the biggest Vogue issue of the year, I would highly recommend it. Coddington steals the show with a warmth and realness that is the perfect foil to Anna Wintour’s more reserved, no nonsense demeanor. Check out a clip of the movie with Grace at Versailles below, she says, “I think I got left behind somewhere because, you know, I’m still a romantic. You have to go charging ahead, you can’t stay behind.”
Photo: Dressed and Educated; From Vogue Magazine, April 2005, Photographed by Annie Leibovitz