I recently re-watched The Devil Wears Prada and The September Issue. Then, for Christmas, I got Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington. In hindsight, this was probably not coincidental as the person that bought me the book also suggested the viewing material. But it made for a very cohesive movie/book experience.
Having now finished Grace: A Memoir I feel kind of bad for loving The Devil Wears Prada so much. Grace has very strong feelings about the movie, as does Ms. Anna Wintour and while I can’t say I blame them, I would also disagree. Grace maintains that the movie makes fashion and fashion people look superficial and stupid. And in the beginning that, and the terror Meryl Streep’s character inspires, is the point. But things don’t really start to fall into place for Andi until she starts to take fashion, and the power of fashion, seriously. Fashion is a serious (and seriously glamourous) business.
Back to the book.
Grace Coddington freely admits that the only reason anyone knows who she is, is because of The September Issue. Completely true. She’s a standout in that movie. I originally saw it because I wanted the access to Anna Wintour but came away in love with Grace Coddington (although make no mistake, I’m equally enamoured of and in awe of Anna Wintour).
Grace: A Memoir takes you through the incredible life of Grace Coddington, from the rural Welsh village where she lived in a hotel, to her days at British and American Vogue. One could argue I suppose that it’s just a history of Vogue magazine but I would disagree. Although an inordinate amount of Grace’s years have been spent working at Vogue, her memoirs run chronologically for the first 2/3 maybe and then different chapters are dedicated to different aspects of her life. There’s a chapter dedicated to Anna Wintour and their working relationship (which for most of us is reason enough to buy the book), a chapter dedicated to the different photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists and models she’s worked with, and yes, even a chapter about cats. Only for Grace Coddington would I read a chapter dedicated to cats.
I’m a dog person.
The book is funny and personal and sometimes very surprising. Like, did you know that her first husband was Mr. Chow? Like Mr. Chow the restaurant. The book is also littered with her drawings of all sorts of things: Anna Wintour, Grace’s cats, different outfits she’s loved, Karl Lagerfeld, Karl Lagerfeld’s cat – it was a charming surprise.
I read this book in about a sitting. It was delicious. And such a beautiful book too. Not that we should expect anything less from the legendary Grace Coddington.
If you want to read an excerpt from the book, click here.