Why Grace Once Quit While Working With Anna!

15 March 2011

We admit to being in awe of Grace Coddington, or Her Grace as this writer likes to call her, the Creative Director of US Vogue, real star of The September Issue – sorry Anna! - and the only woman on the planet that can carry of that impressive fire-red mane. Well, other than the coterie of models she now and then turns into Grace-clones for her editorials like Brit Karen Elson. So, when a somewhat rare interview with the woman Ms Wintour herself called 'a genius' at the end of the doc-to-rule-all-fashion-docs emerges, especially one written by an ex-assistant of Grace, we were delighted.

What did we learn? Intriguingly that despite the incredible 20-year long working relationship she has with Anna Wintour, Grace resigned from UK Vogue a few months after Anna started as its Editor-in-Chief! ‘Anna was much more into “sexy” than I was’, she explains. She rejoined Anna at US Vogue a little later because she missed the creative buzz of magazines. We can’t imagine the magazine without her!

We also find out that the Welsh native has been living with French hairstylist Didier Malige since the Eighties – alongside her much-loved cats, of course – and that she’s been married twice, to restaurateur Michael Chow, of Mr. Chow’s, for six months, ‘I was useless at being a restaurateur’s wife—much too shy to table-hop’, and to photographer Willie Christie whom she mentored at the magazine but, as she puts it, ‘it’s difficult to be employed by your wife’ and they divorced.

Grace also talks lovingly about her mentor, the photographer Norman Parkinson, as she does in the film. ‘He taught me the art of travelling, which means never closing your eyes in case you miss something. We’d get up at five and drive round on recces to see what inspired us. The approach is so different now. Photographers don’t look out the window: they want to see a location book, and everything is done on computers.’ It seems times are a-changing for Grace too. ‘I got really sick last time in Paris, and I was on antibiotics for two months. I push my body too hard, and do have to stop myself now from jumping on a plane. It used to be me who got sent to Russia and China while the older editors stayed behind, but I’m one of those older ones now.’ Not that she’s slowing down much. Her schedule at the time of the interview? ‘Shooting this weekend and next week and the following weekend. Then it’s the New York collections, then LA with Bruce [Weber], then Paris, and now Anna’s trying to get me to go to China…’

But the most shocking thing we read? That in the early Eighties Grace sported a blonde short hair-do and along with business suits and went through her ‘Calvin’ period. She will always be fierce-red-haired Grace to us. We can't wait for the autobiography, Grace!


--Kiki Georgiou


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