It’s not only the red hair, love for fashion and a career in style that myself and the inspirational Grace Coddington have in common. She was born on April 20, 1941 to hotelier parents on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales the same place I was born.
Her interest in fashion began in her teens, when she would anxiously await the arrival of a current issue of Vogue magazine, which was at least three months outdated due to the fact that she needed to order it on “Rush-Copy”. She lived many miles away from any designer shops, so Vogue was her only connection to the fashion world. Even years later in the 1980′s we still had to travel to Manchester or Liverpool to see any ‘interesting’ shops that would inspire a budding stylist-to-be like me but luckily getting Vogue on time had become a less arduous task!
Grace said that she loved the whole sort of chic thing (“Italianate culture”) that was so entirely out of context compared to the lifestyle that she led on Anglesey. As a teen, she was pale-skinned and convent-educated and never went anywhere on her holidays, so she just looked at Vogue. Around the age of 17, there was a Vogue model competition, and someone submitted her pictures. She ended up winning the Young Model section. She then began her modelling career for Vogue. I was certainly not model material and at the age of 18 I travelled to Manchester to study a four year Fashion Design with Technology course.
At the age of 26 Grace was in car accident that left her with head injuries and a removed eyelid, which was later reconstructed through plastic surgery. Two years after the accident she was interviewed by British Vogue’s Editor, Beatrix Miller, and was employed as a Junior Editor. After nineteen years as Photo Editor with British Vogue, she moved to New York to work for Calvin Klein. In July 1988, she joined Anna Wintour at American Vogue, where she remains the magazine’s creative director.
Coddington came into the public eye in 2009 with the release of The September Issue, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the making of the September 2007 issue of Vogue. She plays a prominent role in the film as she is heavily involved in the styling and production of the issue. Her often-tense relationship with editor Anna Wintour is also highlighted.
It’s great to think that another redhead from Anglesey paved the way for me into the fashion world and from such a small remote place it’s amazing how she’s become such a fashion power-house. If I have a career half as successful as her, I’ll be a very lucky girl from Anglesey.