Grace Coddington is most famous, of course, as the lightly powdered, pillow haired foil to Anna Wintour’s sharply angled editrix, but before finding fame as a stylist she was, of course, a hugely successful model. A talent which is about to be celebrated with a retrospective exhibition. Yay for that!
The fashion icon’s former husband, who she was married to between 1974 and 1978 is Willie Christie, a photographer who used Grace as his muse throughout their relationship, resulting in an incredible selection of images. He says that ‘by the time that she gave me my first Vogue shoot with Marie Helvin in 1974, she had long become the creative force working in the fashion room at Vogue. Nonetheless, for me she was still photographic heaven. She was so brilliant as a model because she had an appreciation and understanding of art in all its forms; mimicry; gentleness and serenity. She understood everything that the clothes were trying to do. She became the image. She had then and still has, an absolute passion for all that she does. Photographically - and personally - Grace was everything I was looking for. And she was willing. Lucky me!’
The exhibition came about, Christie says, because ‘everything had been lying in drawers for the preceding 35-odd years, surviving relationships, fire and floods…. As I began to put everything down and saw it as a whole, I thought that perhaps there was a certain look behind it and a friend suggested that I started that I started to transfer all my images to the computer. I did, and here we are.’
The exhibition will be on at The Ivy Club, London, by private appointment, between September 16th and 19th, and will include Christie’s images of 70s supers Marie Helvin, Jerry Hall and Lynn Kohlman alongside the photographs of his former wife.
- Alex Butt
All images by Willie Christie