Out of Vogue: Grace Coddington’s Meandering Memoir Ditches Fashion Mags for an Army of Ex-Husbands, Cats
Although long familiar and widely revered in fashion-industry circles, Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue, burst into the wider public consciousness as the cussing, henna-haired breakout star of The September Issue, the 2009 R.J. Cutler documentary about the production of the Sept. 2007 issue of American Vogue. An 840-page monument to pre-recessionary tastes that included a Roman travel diary in which Sienna Miller wore a lot of feathers and a Dolce & Gabbana dress that cost $61,000, it was at the time the largest monthly issue of any American magazine ever published. (The Sept. 2012 Vogue finally eclipsed it in overall page count—but in its number of advertising pages, it has never been surpassed.) The movie made much of the relationship between Ms. Coddington and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Ms. Wintour is chilly and superior—one of the documentary’s most entertaining moments comes when a startled assistant jumps out of her way like a vole before an owl—while Ms. Coddington is warm and generous to peers and underlings alike. Colleagues shrink and wither under Ms. Wintour’s judgments, but Ms. Coddington challenges the boss like an equal.
After the film came out, Ms. Coddington writes in her new memoir, Grace (Random House, 416 pp., $35), she started getting recognized on the street. Her newfound popular appeal was judged to be such that Random House paid a reported $1.2 million to acquire the memoir. But was this acclaim earned? It is no great task to seem warm-hearted next to Anna Wintour, and the creative director is hardly bold. In one sequence in the film that is, in retrospect, a bit of a reach, the camera lingers as Ms. Coddington surveys the palace of Versailles while sharing insights like, “It’s sort of strange to think how old it is.” Let that $1.2 million sink in. Read More