Grace Coddington – Wing-Lady to Anna Wintour

As a fashion lover, I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t aware who Grace Coddington was until I watched The September Issue, which I am also ashamed to say I only watched earlier this year (it was released in 2009). Grace Coddington is the Creative Director at Vogue US, working alongside Anna Wintour, Editor-In-Chief.

Grace Coddington is British and was born in 1941 in Wales. Living out in the country, she began reading Vogue as a teenager, when she used to receive her copy she had ordered, three months later than its release date. In The September Issue, she explains that she loved the chic life, probably because it was so incongruous with the background she grew up in. Looking at her work, I think its clear to see exactly what she means. Huge statement dresses worn by Amazonian beauties in a far-fetched location make perfect editorials and are a delightful feast for the fashion conscious eye. Grace Coddington started her fashion career as a model and featured on the cover of British Vogue in 1962.

The film The September Issue portrays Anna Wintours and Graces relationship as being friendly, outspoken, honest and unconditional. Last year, Grace turned 71 and still works in the same job at Vogue, proving that it clearly isn’t a job for her. To get the best idea of Grace and her personality, words can only outline her – you need to see her in this film, to see her in action in order to gain respect for her. She says what she thinks in a straightforward non-aggressive manner and stays true to her beliefs and opinions as much as she openly can.

After suffering facial disfigurement in a car accident, she began working as Junior Editor at Vogue US. She moved to Calvin Klein briefly in 1988 and moved back to Vogue US when Anna Wintour became Editor-In-Chief.

Grace’s work as Creative Director is based on fantasy. The editorials, which are always shot with the cream of photographers, are reminiscent of a young girl exploring her Great Aunt Matilda’s trunk in her bedroom and dressing herself with whatever she can find. Except Grace carries this out with exceptional style and vision. In the world of super-stylists, such as Emmanuelle Alt and Carine Roitfeld, Grace Coddington is the third Musketeer, bringing her own unique reverie.

Miu Miu wool-crepe blouse and skirt

Rick Owens wool sweater, cotton skirt and leather gloves; Ann Demeulemeester boots

Alexander McQueen embroidered tulle–and–pleated organza dress

Call in the Cavalry – November 2011 of Vogue US. Photographed by David Sims and styled by Grace Coddington

Natalia Vodianova photographed by Mert & Marcus and styled by Grace Coddington for Vogue US 2004

Grace’s editorials always tell a clear story. Whether it be what to wear throughout the day or a 1950’s gangster romance, she always captures the true essence of the narrative, and this is by no means an easy task, especially when given twelve pages to fill, like this editorial below featuring beautiful Natalia Vodianova and Ewan McGregor.

Natalia Vodianova & Ewan McGregor by Peter Lindbergh, styled by Grace Coddington for Vogue US July 2010

Grace’s tell-tale style is the period-editorial. She has perfected the 1950’s era, after having styled it many times, yet she still manages to make like a chameleon and style and creatively direct editorials like the one below, featuring Karlie Kloss which is abstract and modern.

Karlie Kloss by David Sims, styled by Grace Coddington |Vogue US April 2010 

Grace Coddington has had a fashion career that no-one else will ever have, because she worked in fashion throughout the most impressive years. Fashion has evolved so far since the 1950’s. Every century brought a new trend, a new experiment, which is something we will never experience because everything has already been done. What we do is reinvent and reinterpret those trends which is still a huge task, but its not easy to be original. We don’t have the originality of the last century. The last half of the 19th century was definitely one of the best times to live, in any industry, but especially fashion and Grace saw it all, which is pretty much the reason that she has been and still is one of the greatest fashion stylists to have lived.

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