Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grace Coddington Turns 70

Happy birthday to the lovely Grace Coddington who turns 70 today!

In this age of disloyalty and rootlessness, it's interesting to see that Coddington has worked in one way or another for the great Kraken Vogue for nearly 50 years. She grew up in a remote part of Wales, fascinated by issues of the magazine that she managed to acquire, and then at 17 won teen modeling competition and moved to London. How exciting it must have been! She wound up on the cover of British Vogue in 1960 (see left). In 1967 her modeling career was cut short after her face received substantial injuries in a car accident. The following year she was hired as a junior editor.

Aside from a brief tenure at Calvin Klein in the '80s, she has remained a Vogue employee, working as creative director of US Vogue since '88. Most fascinatingly, has worked beside, with and against her friend and bête noire Anna Wintour for all that time, as Wintour began with the company the same time she did. Their riveting work relationship (Coddington as Style Director, Wintour as Editor in Chief) was wonderfully documented by former West Egg denizin R.J. Cutler.

In some ways Coddington is the anti-Wintour. She goes about her work life in shapeless and practical black, and functional flats, her mane of red hair flying everywhere. She's all about the art and the best things that appear in the magazine have her fingerprints all over them. She's something of a genius in terms of creating beautiful and evocative imagery, and is all about art while Wintour must look out for the money.

Grace Coddington is nothing like the popular idea of a fashion powerhouse. She's smart and intuitive and dithery. May she create lovely, lovely pictures for many years to come!

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