The 2012 CFDA Fashion Awards Sponsored by Swarovski
The last time Vogue creative director Grace Coddington was impressed by fashion, she was at a Balenciaga runway show in Paris.
then, designer Nicolas Ghesquiere has left the house, and it could be
some time before Coddington, the woman now largely famous as the woman
with flowing red hair perched next to Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour
at scores of catwalks each season, gets to see his clothes again.
or even sympathy seems unlikely from Coddington. While in the eyes of
industry observers she might be the good cop trying to defend fashion's
integrity and creative license, she also comes across — especially in
her new autobiography, "Grace: A Memoir" (Random House) — as very matter
of fact: the no-use-crying-over-spilled-milk type.
"I've had a
really fun life, and I hope it's interesting and amusing to read the
story," she says. "You can't really pick and choose what happens."
she misses the days when, as both a model and then a magazine editor,
she'd go off with a photographer to the world's most exotic lands
looking for the scenery to shoot the next greatest picture. Who
She also appreciates that things evolve. They're not
better or worse, they're just different, she says during an interview at
her Times Square office. She's wearing a red cardigan, black trousers
and flat black lace-up shoes.
"It's all very professional now.
It's all very fast. Now time is money. There is so much money in this
business now, but no one cared then because there wasn't so much money.
But somehow we did find money for a three-week photo shoot. Now we're
lucky to get people for three days," she says.
Coddington grew up
in Wales, where her parents owned a small hotel on the coast. That
wasn't going to be the life for her, she decided early on. She moved to
London and got gigs as a model, she thinks because of her quirky style.
After a serious car accident, her work was mostly done on the other side
of the camera, which was fine with her.
As long as she could wear the latest, greatest Yves Saint Laurent outfit, everything was fine with her.
hung out with cool people — even Mick Jagger and George Harrison — and
had lots of fun at night at the hippest cafes, even marrying celebrity
restaurateur Michael Chow.
She made it through the swinging '60s,
the disco era and a corporate job at Calvin Klein. However, as soon as
Wintour, whom Coddington knew from the London fashion scene, took the
helm at American Vogue, she settled in for the long haul, joining the
magazine in 1988.
Coddington emerged as the unsung hero in the
2009 behind-the-scenes documentary "The September Issue" about the
magazine and fashion industries; a champion of art over commerce, talent
Last year, Wintour threw Coddington a
70th-birthday bash. Guests included Marc Jacobs, Carey Mulligan, Seth
Meyers and "tons of designers from New York and Europe; all my favorite
"Anna loves to give a party," says Coddington. "Do I like
getting one? Yes and no. It's a nightmare the five minutes before you
go in, but it's very flattering."
It was suggested to her — on
more than a few occasions — that she "was at that age to write her
memoirs." So, she did. She also drew scores of pencil-drawing
illustrations that steal the show from photographs taken by Bruce Weber,
Ellen von Unwerth, Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz.
AP: Did you tell everyone who's in the book that these stories would be in print?
Coddington: I'm good at staying in touch. I still talk to all my ex-husbands and most of my ex-boyfriends.
AP: Are all your friends in fashion?
I've always recognized the major influences in my life, and they are
mostly in the business. It's so interwoven. I don't stop at five o'clock
and put on a different hat.
AP: Who are the best models to work with?
Everyone is so eager to move on to the next girl now, but THE
supermodels (of the '80s and '90s) — brats that they might have been —
had personality and were really good models. Now they're all too
beautiful, too perfect, and they're little girls.
AP: How did you manage to dress in off-the-runway YSL back in the '60s and '70s?
I think they gave me a big discount and I probably spent all my money
there, but I have never owned couture. I probably don't need to now
because they don't have my size, and I don't lead that life, anyway.