Like every other fashionista out there, I ran straight to Chapters/Indigo Books to purchase the book and carefully laid it on my bedside table until I headed away on vacation last month – it was just destined to be the perfect beach read. If you adore fashion and devour Vogue on a monthly basis, this is an absolute MUST read. From a very early age I was exposed to Vogue as my Mom was dedicated to this Conde Nast publication so much that she kept back issues from two decades ago until recently. Since I was a child, I always seemed drawn to any spread created by the fiery red-headed super stylist who is now the Creative Director of American Vogue, because they are always uber intense, extreme with the type of beauty that borders on hallucinatory. I swear, the woman publishes artwork in these pages each issue.
Grace Coddington (The “Cod”) on the cover of Vogue’s September 1963 issue
After watching R.J. Cutler’s 2009 doc about the workings of the fashion mecca, otherwise known as Vogue, my adoration for Grace continued to grow and I am sure I wasn’t the only one and that film probably played a integral role in getting her the deal to pen her memoir. Although the book starts off rather slow, I just was not at all interested in her childhood living in that bleak cove called Trearddur Bay in Northern England…the book changes gears quite quickly as Grace tells tales of her move to central London as a young teenager to pursue modelling in the 60’s. I had absolutely no clue she had such a high profile modelling career and was basically the Karen Elson of her time being a red-head and avant garde. And being a top model usually brings about certain perks, traveling the world, wearing haute couture fashions (even as”model off-duty” wear), relationships with famous men within the scene; like Michael Chow of Mr. Chow restaurant fame and being friends with world re-known photogs like Bruce Weber, Norman Parkinson, Patrick Demarchelier, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz. And who knew that Ms. Coddington was so skilled with a pen and sketchbook?!?! She has already published a book of her sketches proving her obsession of cats titled, “The Catwalk Cats”, she shows her age and shamelessly admits that rather than taking notes or photos while sitting front row during fashion shows, she prefers to sketch each look by hand as they come down the runway. Old school to the max!
Grace Coddington sitting on the lap of Helmut Newton, Manolo Blahnik, Angelica Houston & David Bailey
Ms. Coddington (who was nicknamed “The Cod” during her modelling days), now 71, had an undeniably successful and enviable career both on and off the runway – she also had a stint as Creative Director at Calvin Klein for a short period of time after leaving British Vogue for the United States. The way she describes the swinging 60s and fabulous 70s, makes any 80’s baby wish they were born in another decade. The most charming parts of the book has to be her adorable sketches at the beginning of each chapter and the ultra fab cartoon sketch in the inside cover of legendary Vogue editors and contributors.
After the holiday season filled with too many parties, too much food and way too much alcohol, relax this weekend with a slew of Tazo Chai Lattes from Starbucks and curl up on the couch and read this fashion page-turner.
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