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Grace: A Memoir

Grace: A Memoir

4.0 13
by Grace Coddington

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Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the


Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned publicity-averse Grace into a sudden, reluctant celebrity. Grace’s palpable engagement with her work brought a rare insight into the passion that produces many of the magazine’s most memorable shoots.
With the witty, forthright voice that has endeared her to her colleagues and peers for more than forty years, Grace now creatively directs the reader through the storied narrative of her life so far. Evoking the time when models had to tote their own bags and props to shoots, Grace describes her early career as a model, working with such world-class photographers as David Bailey and Norman Parkinson, before she stepped behind the camera to become a fashion editor at British Vogue in the late 1960s. Here she began creating the fantasy “travelogues” that would become her trademark. In 1988 she joined American Vogue, where her breathtakingly romantic and imaginative fashion features, a sampling of which appear in this book, have become instant classics.
Delightfully underscored by Grace’s pen-and-ink illustrations, Grace will introduce readers to the colorful designers, hairstylists, makeup artists, photographers, models, and celebrities with whom Grace has created her signature images. Grace reveals her private world with equal candor—the car accident that almost derailed her modeling career, her two marriages, the untimely death of her sister, Rosemary, her friendship with Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Liz Tilberis, and her thirty-year romance with Didier Malige. Finally, Grace describes her abiding relationship with Anna Wintour, and the evolving mastery by which she has come to define the height of fashion.

“If Wintour is the Pope . . . Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.”—Time

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Megan McDonough
…offers a fresh and down-to-Earth perspective on a world known for its glamour and celebrity…Coddington puts her passion for the art and beauty of fashion as well as her biting wit and frankness on display in her new memoir, Grace…Worth the price of the book alone are her juicy and revealing encounters with fashion's elite: models, designers, photographers and stylists—anyone who is anyone in the fashion world.
Publishers Weekly
"Don't expect me to be in it," was what Coddington, Vogue's creative director, said when her boss Anna Wintour told her that R.J. Cutler was making a documentary about the fashion bible (2007's The September Issue). Coddington, ever shy and diligent, was not only in it, but became the film's heroine by standing for creative expression and old-fashioned practices rooted in her deep appreciation for the fundamentals of fashion (she's one of the few remaining fashion editors to dress her own models). This preciously illustrated and honest memoir is written in a delightful colloquial style that will appeal to fashion insiders and average readers. Coddington weaves a story with fairytale beginnings (she clipped modeling school coupons while poring over outdated issues of British Vogue.), some drama (A car accident almost took her life, led to five surgeries and ended her modeling career.), and humorous tidbits (a "raccoon incident" during lunch with Wintour at the Four Seasons, or the time Coddington, who has never asked for a raise in her life, was mistaken for an assistant during an early visit to Conde Nast.) What's a woman who has worked with all the top photographers and models to do? Keep creating the exquisite fantasy worlds she's known for, of course.
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Kirkus Reviews
A lively glimpse of the fashion industry and the characters behind it from American Vogue creative director Coddington. The author begins with her childhood in Wales, but the memoir really comes to life when she describes her modeling days in London. Her big break came early, when a contest landed her in Vogue. Coddington expresses nostalgia for the carefree world of fashion in the 1960s, before the supermodels and celebrities arrived. During that time, there were no makeup artists, and models arrived with a suitcase of their own hair products and accessories. Coddington's descriptions and illustrations bring that world to life. Even though her modeling career was interrupted with a disfiguring car accident, she dove back in once she healed. Her stylist career started with British Vogue, and she later moved to Calvin Klein in America and then to American Vogue when Anna Wintour became the editor-in-chief. The author provides intriguing portraits of Karl Lagerfeld and other big names, but she focuses mostly on Wintour's public persona. Coddington's personal life plays second fiddle to her role in the fashion industry. She mentions her boyfriends and her two husbands, but she glides through her relationships with them. Coddington's tone is incredibly blunt. For example, she lets her envy of Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, another stylist at American Vogue who was also in favor with Wintour, seep through the narrative. Great read for those interested in events in the fashion industry and the personalities who shape it.
Library Journal
Stunning British model. Then creative director of British Vogue. Then creative director of American Vogue. And true star of the 2009 documentary The September Issue, in which she famously upstaged Anna Wintour. Here's a memoir about Coddington's 40 years in fashion, beautifully designed by the author herself.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Grace Coddington lives in New York City and Long Island with her partner, Didier Malige, and their two cats, Bart and Pumpkin.

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Grace 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
BekahSC More than 1 year ago
While Anna Wintour is featured on the dvd cover of "The September Issue," the behind-the-scenes documentary of Vogue Magazine's annual fahion bible, Grace Coddington emerged as the star, in part because she so clearly didn't care to be involved. Her indifference to the fame game that has taken over the fashion industry makes her seem incredibly genuine and down to earth which comes through in her memoir, Grace. While there are no major bombshells (unless you count a make out session with Mick Jagger), Coddington tells the story of her life from a quiet upbringing on a remote island off the coast of Wales to her days in London during the "swinging 60's" and the career switch from modeling to being a fashion editor. Sometimes her matter-of-fact tone is startling as in the telling of her miscarriage, the last time she was ever able to get pregnant. She offers a fascinating glimpse at how modeling has changed over the years, including her opinion of some of the top girls. Her chapter on Anna Wintour and their artistic differences is also interesting. Throughout the book are charming sketches, and photos of Grace's career, both as a model and an editor, appear in the back of the book.
CrazyJosephineDavolo More than 1 year ago
it is so hard to visualize "Vogue" without the artistic vision of Grace Coddington. Her photo spreads are like an ethereal dream--giving one thoughts as to just what Ms. Coddington is like realistically. Fear not. She's "freakin' awesome"!!! For anyone who is not too fond of autobiographical or biographical reads, this is the exception. Ms. Coddington has lived, and continues to live, an interesting and fun life. Her story covers her childhood up to the present. The BEST thing about the book is her memories of the '60's (for me, it is a period of the best fashions EVER. E.V.E.R.) She covers the dirt so well--but classy enough that she isn't being trashy. She is truly a class act! Her tone is never smug or condescending. She writes as though you are sitting with her and having a great conversation--on a big fluffy sofa, with a fire going, and a pot of tea. She really comes across as an approachable and likeable woman. If you are looking for a great read, please--get this. It is an amazing book, a quick read and just wonderful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lively text, very interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the fashion world, well illustrated,
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I have mixed reveiws. Sounded good but was not great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago