I have seen the film 'The September Issue', so I am very well aware of Grace Coddington. She is the artistic director of Vogue, and this is an extraordinary role. In 'the September Issue' ,Anna Wintour was the supposed subject, but Grace ended up being the star of this documentary. Grace at first, refused to be part of the documentary , but was dragged in, and she found she liked it. She was fresh and truthful and whipped around with the air of someone who knows what is going on.
Grace was born in Wales, had a wonderful childhood, and at age eighteen decided to go to London to try modeling. She has many photographs in this book, and Grace was a beauty. Tall, thin and redhead. She was one of the first women to have a haircut by Sasson Vidal, and she started to make a name for herself. She traveled the world, made money and spent it. She had two husbands, divorced each. She had one miscarriage after an accident, and never had any more children. She adopted a nephew. She made a new life for herself with Vogue..
This book is not a gossip tell-all. It's more a record., based on Grace's diaries. Grace says, 'I've kept a diary since I was a tiny kid trying to find my way, and going through all my written records reminds me of shoots and jogs my memory." After spending decades in the fashion industry, she spent the majority of her career at Vogue. Grace is the woman Anna Wintour depends upon. This memoir mentions a great many names, fly by night, not too many concrete memories with real stories involved.
This is not a memoir of the personal Grace. It is more superficial, filled with her comings and goings . Sometimes it is interesting, and often it is not. This is a book most pertinent to those in the fashion business. Grace knows them all, I assume she has many really good stories to tell, but not many of them appear in this memoir.
She currently lives in New York and Long Island with her partner, Didier Malige, and their two cats, Bart and Pumpkin. The photographs and pen and ink drawings are quite lovely to look at. What is really missing, is Grace. What is she all about,,what does she believe?
Recommended. prisrob 06-14-13
on 25 November 2012
Grace Coddington was born in 1941, and raised in Wales, and she has worked in fashion all her professional life. Did some readers think this would be a "heart on sleeve " tell all of her private life? Did they expect a "bitch fest" on the business she is still deeply involved in?
The truth of the matter is everything is there in this book if you take time to listen to her "voice" and the throw away treatment of her personal affairs; as well as some sharp asides regarding a fair number of her fellow fashion workers BUT, and it is a big but there is no "drama" and very little exaggeration. This is simply Grace Coddington, her story as she tells it.
In my opinion - and that's all any review can ever be how ever objective we may think we are being - this is a humdinger of a memoir, to read perhaps in tandem with Alicia Drake's "The Beautiful Fall" a book which covers a certain amount of the same period of time but which contains more dramatic revelations!
Grace Coddington is unique in that her deep and abiding love for her business has seen her take on roles which include top model, working for a brand - Calvin Klein, and her current job -Creative Director of American Vogue. She has worked with the top professionals from hair and make-up to great assistants (Julie Kavanagh a great biographer) Grace Coddingotn inspires a younger generation with her creative vision and longevity, as well as her personal image and approach to her recently found fame within the fashion world through the documentary film "September Issue".
Her book encompases all the key players from her lifetime in fashion from the unforgettable Lady Rendlesham to Mario Testino. Her sharp observations may only be two or three words but they are the right two or three words, and she also applies this rigour and editorial eye to her private life and her personal events, both in family and in love.
In spite of creating extraordinary stories through her image creation Grace Coddington is at pains to make her life NOT extraordinary but simply her life.
Thank you Grace Coddington for showing graciousness, charm, wit and discretion in your autobiography, the cutting comments are so throw away they are easily missed, which is in itself very, very amusing!
on 26 June 2015
GRACE: A MEMOIR
I am finished reading the autobiography by the famous and creatively gifted Grace Coddington whose work I truly value.
So far it has been an inconsistently interesting read:
In the first half of the book Grace recalls her many love stories and although she does not directly speak of the influence they’ve had on her fashion career, it is clear that she oly dated wealthy men and those who could help her jumpstart her career in fashion. While this is nothing new in this materialistic world of ours, I did feel slightly annoyed. I suppose it is not the fashion-based content I was expecting and it's clear that Grace was not a stron-willed independent woman as she seems to be now (according to Vogue documentaries).
However, in the second half of the book when Grace has matured in age and personality, she embarks on very interesting creative projects and lets the reader see the inner circle of a usually closely-knit and tightly shut circle of fashion insiders. Here one can learn a lot about the important people of the fashion industry and their participation over the last decades.
Finally the book closes with a chapter on cats. Although I really do love cats, this again I find very irritating and out of place. Do I really need to know about a cat mind-reader, a sort of spiritual cat therapist who Grace calls when one of her felines is late coming back from a walk in the nearby woods? I am not sure....
Overall I can recommend this book as a good read on the way to work...in the train and on the underground. You can read a few fragmented pages and then put it aside and not worry about how the chapters fit together - because they dont. I read it with my then young toddler jumping around and if it wasn't for the cat pictures (and one photo with a dog) which we had to look at every time I picked up the book, I don't think I could have read it. So I could read a page or two and then put the book down and engage in playing peek-a-boo or changing diapers. It's so disconnected that you can interrupt your reading at any point of time without loosing the plot.
on 4 July 2013
I love Luella Bartley's book on 'British birds' and I consider Grace Coddington one of the greatest exponents for this rather special kind of species. Her memoirs are written in a chatty style. Reading it is like overhearing a really interesting talk by the next table at a nice café. Grace Coddington is a decent person, but with a tongue-in-cheek wittiness and quite acerbic reflections on the fashion world and the strange people inhabiting it. Even if her life has been filled with ups and downs and many sad moments Grace Coddington comes through as a sturdy British land girl (albeit very romantic), both feet happily planted deep in whatever piece of earth she decides to stand in, as long as it is fashionable earth of course!
Having lived all my teenage years in a dreary little Swedish town, Vogue was my saviour, and I can relate to Grace's fascination with the world in between the glossy pages. However she has manage to keep herself as a whole and unique person whilst working in this hectic and commercial world. Her sense of fashion and style is her own. Her memoirs reflects this and much more. Even if all is not available in the text that meets your eyes when you're reading this book, it seeps out between the lines. The graciousness and personality of Grace herself.
on 12 December 2012
Having watched the documentary film about Vogue, 'The September Issue', and loved it, I was really looking forward to this book. It does not disappoint. I bought it for the kindle, and am still working my way through it. It is a thoroughly engrossing read, about Grace's life, from her home in Wales, to when she became a model, to how she got into the magazine side of things. She has had a very interesting life thus far, and perhaps could have had quite a successful career as a writer, as she tells her tale with wit and insight. At no point during this book did I get bored, or wish to skip ahead; it is very well written. She has also included drawings to illustrate it, alongside photos she has taken in her work, or that were taken of her.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone. She has a dry, sarcastic humour, but is also a romantic at heart. Anyone looking for an insight into the fashion world, the history of modelling/photographry/Vogue/designers in general should read this. With many contacts in the fashion world, Grace traces each of their rises and falls, from Calvin Klein, to Galliano, she seems to know all the big names, and reduces them to the level of people, rather than the grand icons they have become.
British-born Grace Coddington, creative director of American 'Vogue' became a celebrity almost by accident when she appeared in RJ Cutler's film entitled 'The September Issue', a documentary which was intended to be about the making of the 2007 September edition of 'Vogue', but when the film was released, was more about the dynamics between the legendary and rather daunting editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, and her creative director, Grace Coddington. In her memoir, Grace writes of this documentary in her introduction, telling us that she was in total shock when she saw the first showing, feeling there was way too much of her in the film, and is always surprised that people who have seen the movie, respond to her in such a positive manner, explaining that perhaps this is because people find her a more emotional and spontaneous character than Anna Wintour who, in contrast, she tells us "is by nature much more determinedly and quietly controlled." Having dealt with the film that brought her into the eye of the general public, Grace presents her memoir in a mostly chronological format, starting with her birth in 1941 in Anglesey, Wales, and moving on to her schooling at Le Bon Sauveur convent school in Holyhead, where she wore a grey worsted wool tunic, a flannel shirt and thick lisle stockings, and the nuns spent their lunch-breaks roller skating on a flat roof where their robes flapped about them making them look "like crows on wheels".
At eighteen, Grace left Wales, telling us that if you stayed in Anglesey, you would end up working in either a clock factory or a snack bar, and she arrived in London to attend a two-week course at the Cherry Marshall Modelling School, working part-time as a waitress in a bistro to pay the rent. After entering a competition in British 'Vogue' in 1959, where she won the Young Idea section, Grace tells us that suddenly everyone began asking for her and she was later photographed by Terence Donovan and David Bailey. Nicknamed 'The Cod' (not as attractive a nickname as Jean Shrimpton's 'The Shrimp' she admits) Grace had a special hairstyle created for her by Vidal Sasson, the Five Point Cut, and she goes on to tell us how she and her friends would drink and dance until dawn and then rush off the next morning to another modelling job. However, life was not fun all the way: as a passenger in a car accident during the 1960s, her left eyelid was sliced off ("Luckily they found my eyelashes") and she had to undergo five plastic surgery operations in the following two years; she lost the only child she was ever able to conceive when, at seven months pregnant, Chelsea football fans turned over her Mini and she suffered a miscarriage as a result; and her older sister, Rosie, sadly died from an overdose leaving two small children behind, one of which, Tristan, Grace tried immediately to adopt, but was unable to due to her single status at the time. Over the following forty plus years, Grace married, divorced, met Didier, the man she has now spent more than thirty years with, left modelling and started working for British Vogue; she then worked for Calvin Klein and finally for American 'Vogue', where remains to this day and is still working creatively at the age of 73.
Although Grace Coddington has undoubtedly had an interesting and, at times, a rather exciting life, in common with many memoirs/autobiographies, she only tells us what she wants us to know - which is fair enough, but I do feel that this could have been a deeper and more interesting memoir if we had learnt a little more about her feelings and motivations. Understandably there are areas in her life that the author does not wish to dwell on as they are most probably too painful to revisit, but I was a little surprised that some of the most important and life altering events were dealt with so very briefly. That said, this is a very easy book to read; Coddington writes in a chatty and informal way and for fashionistas and those interested in 'Vogue' magazine, there is plenty to interest and entertain. I must confess that I did not buy this book - it was on the coffee table of a friend I was babysitting for and I picked it up just to flick through the photographs, however once I started reading, I was interested enough to carry on until the end of the book. Attractively presented with almost four hundred pages of text, drawings and scores of beautiful photographs printed on good quality paper, this is one of those books that you can easily dip into, or read, as I did, in one extended sitting.
on 1 January 2013
I bought this book because I am Welsh and my mother owned a high class fashion shop for many years and I did the buying for the shop. I was sad to read in this novel that Grace did not really relate to Wales or anything Welsh. It tells the story of fashion from the 60's onwards but, however, is not that easy to follow. It is a narrative with very little emotion or personal anecdotes. I would have liked to have read about how models felt before a big fashion shoot. I have seen "The September Issue" and loved it but that film is far more descriptive and real. This autobiography is a series of events with very little sense of place or character. she is disappointing as a writer but as a fashion editor she is clearly succsessful. If you have a connection with the Fashion industry you will appreciate this book but note I am not saying "Enjoy".
on 5 April 2013
This is a delightful memoir of pioneer stylist and fashion editor Grace Coddington (of American Vogue since the late 1980s). It is an easy read with the feeling of a conversation / transcribed interview. It is also a beautiful book object, filled with Coddington's drawings. Images and drawings are clearly her language. She admits to never reading, or having read "one book" in her lifetime. Dyslexic or uninterested, who knows? Still, she has contributed this book to the world's libraries, and it is a moving story of growing up and coming of age in the UK post-WWII, as well as an insight into a long and successful career within the fashion industry. Highly recommended by this fan.
on 12 January 2013
I bought it for my daughter, and she LOVES it!! She says it's brilliantly well written, and very interesting for anyone interested in fashion and the magazine world.
on 19 February 2013
Very easy to read, almost a list of who's who in fashion today, but you are very much aware that there are parts of her life that she is not going to write about.You do want to know how she felt when her marriage failed, the frustration and anger she must have had trying to adopt her sister's child. We want to know more about her relationship with her mother, and the very poignant sentence on loosing her baby, 'that was the only time I could get pregnant' the reader is howling in agony for her, and she deals with it in one sentence. So it is a memoir about her life with fashion not a biography.