Grace Coddington

As someone who first learned of Grace Coddington from her feisty presence in The September Issue, I felt appropriately chided by the introduction where Coddington declares it “the movie that is the only reason anyone has ever heard of me.” That claim is mostly untrue in terms of the fashion world, but then the average person who saw that documentary is unaware of who edits the spreads in fashion magazines. Her battles with Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour make a good axis of drama for the film, yet the suggested animosity between them seems to be largely in the editing. Though if there are any dishy tidbits, Coddington is too loyal to mention them here.

Her life story weaves in a chronologically manner until the latter part of the book where she turns her focus to more thematic ideas, like her philosophies on beauty and her appreciation of cats. Overall it makes for a somewhat rambling narrative, as the time moves along at a pleasant, linear pace before shifting distractedly around indistinct phrases like “Later…” or “Shortly afterward…” It feels a bit like finding any available box to include all her random stories, but I found her wry humor entertainment enough. The earlier stories about Coddington modeling in the 1960s are some of the best parts — it’s fascinating to learn that models used to have to largely style themselves and bring with them makeup and hair products and even shoes to adapt for each shoes. It explains how she made the transition into editing for magazines once her modeling career was waning.

The text is augmented with Coddington’s charming line drawings and plenty of photos and spreads of her work. If not for the strangely large type and resulting heft of its pages, this book would make the perfect beach read.