Once one of the fashion industry’s best-kept secrets, Grace Coddington became Vogue’s most famous and loved fashion director after her appearance in The September Issue. She’s considered by many to be the yin to Anna Wintour’s yang – the romantic dreamer in contrast to Wintour’s seemingly cold and business-like personality.
While Grace prefers to stay behind the scenes, when she does speak up, it’s usually to say something insightful or amusing. Here are our 10 favourite Grace Coddington quotes from the woman that Time Magazine describes as the “Michelangelo of fashion”:
1. In the car on the way to a photoshoot at Versailles in Paris: “[Norman Parkinson] taught me to always keep your eyes open – never go to sleep in the car or anything like that. Keep watching – because whatever you see out the window or wherever – it can inspire you”.
2. On the importance of fashion photography: “For me, one of the most important aspects of my work is to give people something to dream about, just as I used to dream all those years ago as a child looking at beautiful photographs. I still weave dreams, finding inspiration wherever I can and looking for romance in the real, not the digital, world”
3. On why she never reached the top of best model lists: “I was considered avant-garde and fashionable rather than pretty.”
4. On French fashion: “They could be pretty bitchy, those fashion-mad French girls. I would never dare talk back to them. For me, the French were always so superior in matters of style. England was cool but never chic.”
5. On inventing an iconic makeup style: “Each girl had her own individual style when it came to piling on the makeup. My particular thing was to draw an extra-wide stroke emphasizing the crease of the eye socket and add extravagantly long, spidery lines below the eye, a little like doll’s lashes, then paint a dot toward the inner corner for reasons I can’t exactly articulate except that it looked nice and ‘now.’ Later I discovered my crazy new eyelash look being called ‘twiglets’ and credited to the young British model Twiggy. Well, they were very much mine. I was probably doing them before she was born!”
6. On her trademark hair: “Anna hates red hair. I’m always trying to put red hair on models. I really like strong colour hair, it doesn’t matter what, it could even be green! The only hair colour I don’t like is blonde. I find it boring. I like red heads, as they usually have very pale skin, but that’s not Anna’s ideal look. She likes people that are healthy looking and she likes blondes because that’s the American dream. But I suit red hair. My personality goes with it.”
7. In the opening credits of The September Issue, contemplating a black leather jacket: “I wonder if Anna would like this one?” “It’s black,” someone replies, off camera. “Yes that’s true…would probably get fired for that.” Grace replies.
8. On fashion shows being overrun with bloggers: “Any old shit can go down a runway and they just sit there and clap.”
9. At the 2013 Met Gala when asked what she was most looking forward to seeing: “Well I’d like to see some real punks in here – some real street punks. But they’re probably not invited…”
10. To a cameraman who had been pulled into an impromptu photoshoot and then criticised by Anna Wintour for not having a flat stomach: “Everybody isn’t perfect in this world. I mean… it’s enough that the models are perfect… you don’t need to go to the gym.”