Lifestyle Magazine


By Wildchildmedia @wildchildmedia

British model of the 1960’s/ Joined British Vogue in 1968 as a Junior Fashion Editor/ Senior Fashion Editor for British Vogue in 1976/Designer Director at Calvin Klein in 1987/Fashion Director for American Vogue, New York in 1988

 A review of the recently published memoirs of Grace Coddington AKA, The Cod, ‘cold as a codfish but hot as a four-bar fire.’

Having vowed to myself that I would cast any previous plans aside in order to make the book signing of Grace Coddington’s Memoirs, I was beyond frustrated to find that I had university lectures that day. Gone were the hazed visions of the very hands in which create Vogue, sign the pages of my book. Gone was our envisaged chatter. The way in which I dreamt the very secrets of Vogue would untangle and break free from the fiery mass of hair upon her head, like birds flee the nest. I was never to meet The Cod herself that day (let alone hear the latest goss on Wintour) yet the book itself having arrived at my door the following week, was almost enough to make up for the whole debacle.

The Times referred to Coddington as the ‘Michalangelo’ of Vogue back in 2009, the responsibility to ‘paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.’ A statement which does not seem to be exaggerated in my eyes as she has collaborated with make up artists and photographers for over four decades, in order to bring the very essence of her childhood imagination to the printed pages of the world’s most prestigious glossy, Vogue. The book opens in a place only to be described as utter ‘bleakness’. A place where the ‘monochrome cliffs’ stood erect against gray pebbled skies as the drunk Irish Sea lapped up little sailing boats. And a fifteen year old ‘lonely heroine dreamt of being Audrey Hepburn’. It is a feeling of which we can all identify with. Entrapment suffocates a place of which seems only to obstruct us with boundaries and limitations to our powers. This place for Coddington was the Isle of Anglesey, her home. She sought happiness within such seemingly bleak conditions as she would sit and watch the waves crash against her slender ankles. “I used to sit on the rocks and look out to sea and be on my own and just dream.” The book captures the inspirational journey she embarked upon. She looks back at the young schoolgirl who would drift unanchored from Tre-Ardurr Bay in the Coddington’s small sailboat in ‘grand seclusion.’ Lost within her imagination.

An imagination bound by the magical narratives of Lewis Carroll, whisking her down a rabbit hole to a world of mad hatters and beaming cats. An author who inspired her to create, ‘Alice in Wonderland: A Fashion Fairytale’ for the December issue of Vogue in 2003. This shoot living up to fashion critic Suzy Menkes’ praising of her ‘incredible instinct for the next thing,’ as it was before the famous Tim Burton remake of the fairytale. This young girl we envisage sat cross-legged in her sister’s room flicking through page after page of Vogue, daydreaming of seemingly distant lands of fashion, sought freedom in the magazine. Dreaming of a place she was born to be a part of. She would be whisked away to hot beaches filled with tanned bodies, which dip into the meditteranean, designer swimsuits shimmering with sun-warmed water crystals. Or to the imposing mountains of the Alps within December’s edition of Vogue, which cast shadows across the blushing skies, as models demonstrated appropriate après-ski wear. But the photographs shot by Norman Parkinson of which she so cherished were not a patch on the work she eventually would create. This young girl who would daydream of the mystical world of fashion eventually photographed designers John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld in one single fashion shoot alone.

The book explores the incredible life of Grace as we as readers are whisked away into the world of fashion. A world of which none of us can truly understand much further beyond the distortions given by ‘The September Issue’ and the media.  As an aspiring fashion journalist myself hoping to break into the industry one day, it makes a breathtakingly inspirational read. A read of which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who feels trapped within the limitations of their small hometown. A read for anyone who has the overwhelming desire to achieve as each page of her memoir breathes determination. Such an insight into the life of one of fashion’s leading women offers not only inspiration and excitement but hope. The portrayal of a young girl with little more than a head full of fiery dreams, who left everything behind to board a one-way train to London in 1959. The fashion world lives up to the exhilarating and exciting visions I have always dreamt it is! From tales of her ‘snogging’ THE Mick Jagger at an exclusive London party, having the iconic five point Vidal Sassoon cut, to riding a VeloSolex to the famous beaches of St Tropez for a spot of topless bathing and dancing until dawn to French pop on the Champs Elysées. Before opening the book I was anxious as this dreamlike vision of the fashion industry which had been played over and over and over again within my head, could all come crashing down. I worried that the exhilarating dreams I had of traveling to bustling fashion capitals to interview the next big thing and embarking upon journeys to distant lands for exotic fashion shoots were far from reality. Yet Coddington brings such enthusiasm to her story that nothing could bring down anyone’s dreams, no matter how far fetched and ridiculous they may seem to others. It’s a book, which truly demonstrates that dreams aren’t just for fairytales.


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