fashion's finest ask grace coddington all things feline
10 years ago, as she released her book Catwalk Cats, we had leading figures of the fashion industry ask Grace Coddington one cat-related question each alongside a few of the book's illustrations. As Grace appears on the cover of Puss Puss, Maria...
Grace Coddington is the world's foremost fashion editor. The seeds to her glittering career were sown in the iconic modelling days of the 60s, when Coddington's name became synonymous with the elite talent of the day. It was during this period that she became associated with Vidal Sassoon's most pioneering work. In the 70s and 80s her seminal collaborations with Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson and David Bailey made British Vogue the most talked about magazine of the decade. Throughout her career, Grace has proved her pedigree as one of the hippest cats on the block, providing inspiration for millions of budding fashionistas worldwide. Her most recent post, alongside Anna Wintour at American Vogue, stands as testimony to her incredible talent. It's no wonder that some of the coolest kitties in the industry were scratching to grill the chicest fashion feline over her new book, Catwalk Cats.
Edward Enninful, Fashion Director, i-D
When did your love affair with cats and fashion begin?
My fashion thing was when I was a kid living in Wales. I used to rush to the newsagent once a month to get British Vogue. I guess I loved fashion and I used to make my own clothes from Vogue patterns, however in those days they were mostly based on couture looks, so I would try and make couture looks on my mother's handsewing machine that you had to kick to operate. I can't really say that fashion went hand in glove with cats because I never really saw the two of them together until about 20 years ago when I started sending faxes to Didier, my boyfriend, telling him what I was doing when I was away and instead of writing (because I can't really spell), I used to draw what I was doing and it was fashion. I would draw the "cats" on the shoot or the "cats" in the collections; so that's when they kind of got together, cats and fashion. I always loved cats, there were a lot of cats around in Wales and then I had my own cat as soon as I got my own apartment in London. I was modelling so that must have been around 1959. I never had much luck with my cats, they kept dying or I had to give them away because my life was a bit all over the place! I got more serious when I stopped modelling and became a Fashion Editor with a more regular lifestyle in 1968.
Terry Jones, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of i-D Magazine
Who clears up the cat litter?
Do cats poop?
Cathy Horyn, The New York Times
Did Cats the musical give cats a bad name?
I never saw it, but that's because I hardly ever go to musicals.
Brana Wolf, Superstylist
Have you ever had a ginger pussy?
Well I have red hair, what do you think?
Steven Klein, Photographer
How would you define pussy power?
Let's move on.
Craig McDean, Photographer
Is it more catty up at Vogue or in your home?
At Vogue and I'm the biggest cat of all.
Hamish Bowles, European Editor at Large, American Vogue
Which of your cats reminds you most of yourself?
Well, Didier my boyfriend always says it's Coco because I'm always scratching and in a bad mood. I think it's Puff because he's got red hair, and rules the household.
Jefferson Hack, Publisher at Dazed & Confused and AnOther Magazine
What makes a cool cat cool?
You told me Jefferson, you hate cats! What makes a cool cat cool? Hopefully who their owners are.
Ronnie Newhouse, Creative Director
Did you ever have a catfight with another editor?
Yes, but I can't mention who.
Anne Christensen, Fashion Editor at The New York Times
Are you always watching the hottest kitten on the runway?
Yes, because usually Steven Meisel tells me who the hottest model is and I am watching her hoping that she's smiling a lot and that Vogue will like her or Anna (Wintour) will like her.
David Sims, Photographer
Did you claw your way to the top?
Elissa Santisi, Style Director at American Vogue
So tell us, how did you claw your way to the top?
I licked all the important cats.
Sally Singer, Fashion News Features Director at American Vogue
When was the last time you saw a real hairball on the runway?
That's a very good question. Probably during the winter collections, because that's when they have fur. I've seen a lot of them at home.
Gemma Ward, Supermodel
If you could put one Balenciaga spring/summer look on your cat, what would it be?
I'd put them in metal legs and see what they make of it.
Michael Roberts, Fashion and Style Director, Vanity Fair
Do you litter your bedroom?
No, but I litter the bathroom.
Katie Grand, Editor-in-Chief, Pop Magazine
Who is your favourite screen cat?
I can't think of anyone other than Garfield. So it's got to be Garfield.
Candy Pratts Price, Style.com
Have you ever been to the Kit Cat club in Berlin?
I haven't actually. I haven't been to Berlin since the early 60s when I was a model. It sounds good, I'd like to go, but I haven't.
Guido, Hairdresser Extraordinaire
What is the most purrrfect collection you have ever seen?
God that's a tricky one. Well it's probably one of the Yves Saint Laurent collections from the 70s like the Russian one (Ballet Russe) where I think I fainted.
Sarah Mower, Superstar Journalist
Which current designer is going to be the biggest cat-alyst for change?
Balenciaga. I think this new collection is going to change the face of fashion. Take the leggings for instance, they look like they would be really heavy but they're really light. It gave me goosebumps. But I do love Marc Jacobs as well.
Andre Leon Talley, Editor at Large, American Vogue
What do you prescribe as make-up for cats to be glamorous at 10 in the morning and what make-up artist would you send your cats to when they have to attend the biggest event of the season?
You need a big comb out from your own personal hairdresser i.e. Didier Malige every morning. I can't say I have my hair done every morning but the cats do. I don't think they need much makeup. They do their own face and Didier does their hair. To answer your second question, it would have to be Pat McGrath because she's very adaptable and she has a massive range. Out of the 70 suitcases she carries there must be something fantastic to do the cats with.
Lily Cole, Supermodel
If you were a cat what would you be?
l'D BE A VERY VERY SLIM CAT with long legs and a long tail -- I think I'd still be a red cat, a marmalade cat but a very slim one!
Tonne Goodman, Fashion Director at American Vogue
Do you prefer Miaow Miaow or Prada?
I think the cats' miaow probably drives me crazy so I'll go for Prada.
Phyllis Posnick, Fashion Director at American Vogue
What is your catnip?
Paul Cavaco, Creative Director at Allure Magazine
Cats are standoffish and independent by nature. Do you think that's helped your cats in their fashion careers?
It would seem so, they get front row seats and they know all the best designers.
Virginia Smith, Fashion Market/Accessories Director, American Vogue
How do you feel about lippie fur?
Disgusting, I don't love fur, I don't make a big thing about it obviously but I think it's shocking that they make up a name to get it in the country. It's still leopard fur. Good question though.
Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman, Conde Nast International
Have the monumental paintings of Alex Katz had an influence on your visual presentation?
Read the book.
Pat McGrath, Super Make-up Artist
What do your cats wear when they are leaving New York for the country?
What any chic cat would wear, Marc Jacobs of course.
Venetia Scott, Superstylist
Dear Grace, I know you are not meant to look back, but if you were to do it all over again, would you do anything different?
I would stay in the country and have tons more cats.
Tim Walker, Photographer
When I see you sketching at the shows are you sketching cats or clothes?
If it's a brilliant collection, clothes. If it's uninspiring, then I am sketching cats.
Stella Tennant, Supermodel
What was your biggest fashion fuck up?
Having a dress especially made for a photograph by John Galliano, shooting it three times and still having it not run. You were in one of the photographs Stella.
Steven Meisel, Photographer
Dear Grace, I have a problem. My youngest cat Egan, who is only 2 years old, wants to have his tongue pierced. I feel he is too young to do this. Do you have any suggestions to help talk him out of it, as this could make his grooming extremely difficult? Sincerely, Steven
I would send him to my pet psychic Christine Devenny, the one I sent you to when Edith was peeing all over the place. I believe she helped you out the first time and she can again.
Joe McKenna, Superstylist
Miaowccia Prada or Jean Paw Gaultier?
Camilla Nickerson, Superstylist
What is this season's answer to the kitten heel?
Mario Testino, Photographer
How was life on the catwalk?
In my day you had to be able to dance. I did shows for Mary Quant and hair shows for Vidal Sassoon. You had to be able to do the twist and perform. You stopped and skipped, you didn't just walk up and down like the girls do today.
Lucinda Chambers, Fashion Director , British Vogue
What would be in your catalogue of fashion catastrophies and what has left you feline wonderful?
A cat astrophe is when you get so old you cannot wear the fashion, the wonderful thing is you can just wear black.
Carine Roitfeld, Editor-in-Chief, Paris Vogue
Est-ce que "chat" va bien?
Ouel chat cherie?
Jessica Diehl, Vanity Fair
Balenciaga or your cat, Bart?
What a question? Cristobal or Nicolas?
Anna Piaggi, Italian Vogue
Some years ago you were photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia. It was a story about relationships. You were photographed with cats. Were they yours or were they hired?
They were hired as stand-ins for my cats, and my cats were very offended!
Julien d'Ys, Hairdresser and Artist
Why is 'skinny old white cat' Julien not in your book?
Julien you had your day in my last book ... you had a whole page …
Franca Sozzani, Editor In Chief l'Uomo Vogue and Italian Vogue
Are your cats as aggressive as fashion people?
No, but like fashion people, they believe me when I tell them they look beautiful!
Interview by Edward Enninful. Artwork Grace Coddington.
Portrait by DiDier Malige