By Veronica Saroli (ArtSci ’14)
Like its predecessor The September Issue, Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington can be consumed voraciously time and time again without ever getting old or tiresome. What’s so great about fashion documentaries and memoirs is that they pull back the curtain to offer a peek into the elusive industry. The permeation of cameras and technology backstage and behind the scenes was not as commonplace as is the present case.
Coddington began her career as a model and then migrated to work behind the lens, giving her perspectives on the fashion industry from a variety of vantage points. It’s her personal anecdotes, however, that give the book an extra bite, as well as her enmeshment in fashion from the 1960s onwards and unique experiences in the industry.
The pace of the book moves fairly quickly and covers a great deal of content, so I suggest keeping note of the various things referenced.
I’d be bereft of my Canadian nationality if I failed to mention the part where Coddington talks about her Canadian roots; her grandmother was a Canadian opera singer who met Coddington’s grandfather while on tour in Wales. I particularly enjoyed her focus on London and modeling where she recounts a period in fashion that looks completely different than the current fashion world. For example, models would do their own hair and makeup as well as bring their own accessories to fashion shoots. Following modeling, Coddington traces her path from British to American Vogue, interrupted with a stint at Calvin Klein. Throughout grand narratives of the world of high fashion, Coddington weaves in anecdotes of the characters she meets along the way, which in hindsight, are like little gems sprinkled throughout the narrative.
Coddington rarely discusses the hardships she’s encountered, which is a testament to a life dedicated to beauty. Illustrations by Coddington herself, keep the mood upbeat and whimsical, and the book is choc full of pictures during all periods of Coddington’s life, both public and private.
Whether you choose to savour Grace: A Memoir one page at a time or devour it over the course of a day or two, it’s a pleasure to get a glimpse into the life of one of the most talented editors to have ever worked in the industry, with a life filled with romance, beauty and trail-blazing
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