grace coddington’s life is now an illustrated book about an orangutan named gingernutz

Meet the world's first primate supermodel.

by Hannah Ongley
01 September 2017, 8:30pm

"Always be yourself," the saying goes, "unless you can be a unicorn. Then be a unicorn." But what if you can be both? Grace Coddington is proof that you can be a convent-educated Welsh girl on the inside, and a magical fashion beast on the outside. Anglesey, Wales might be far removed from the orangutan community of the Bornean rainforest. But Coddington's new book seems to have been shaped in large part by her own journey from normal schoolgirl to elite supermodel. GingerNutz — written and illustrated by Michael Roberts, with a foreword by Grace — is the jungle memoir of its titular orangutan, who finds a copy of Vogue rolled up in a glass bottle and pursues a career as a glamorous supermodel.

"GingerNutz" by Michael Roberts.

"Maybe it's because I'm usually so preoccupied with my adorable cat family that GingerNutz only recently caught my attention," fashion's iconic feline enthusiast muses about (temporarily) shifting her focus to primates. "I wasn't sure who or what she was, but when a photographer friend of mine raved about her not long ago, I thought, 'Wow, she sounds a lot like me!' We both have frizzy, orangey hair — although mine does not sprout everywhere, thank goodness, because who could afford those hairdressing bills? We both love beautiful clothes, nature, and the sea. And we both have lovely skin that is super-sensitive to sunshine, only I use uncomfortably sticky protective cream while she shelters under a large fresh banana leaf."

"GingerNutz" by Michael Roberts.

Both fashion unicorns also enjoy poking a bit of fun at their chosen career paths. "I'd like to be plugged in to the information superhighway, become globally interconnected with the highest levels of chic, and mingle with the movers and shakers of the fashion elite," goes GingerNutz's pitch to her parents after finding the bottle. She dreams of the following: "Volcanic spas! Seaweed face masks! Laser eye treatments! Pop-up boutiques! Indelible lipsticks sprinkled with phosphorescent glitter! Unbelievably high platform shoes! Unbelievably costly French ready-to-wear!" And what better way to access such essentials, she concludes, than by "standing about for hours in unusual ways in faraway places?"

We have a feeling GingerNutz won't be a model forever, though — if her life really does mirror Grace's, she likely has a knack for conceiving beautifully batshit 15-page fashion editorials inspired by King Kong. Pick up a copy of the book here to read GingerNutz's inspiring story, and do the wider orangutan fam a solid: Roberts is donating a large portion of his royalties to the Orangutan Foundation to help save the endangered Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans.

The Met Museum Store will be hosting a book signing of "GingerNutz" with Michael Roberts and Grace Coddington on Friday, September 8 from 6-8pm.

"GingerNutz" by Michael Roberts.
"GingerNutz" by Michael Roberts.
"GingerNutz" by Michael Roberts.
Grace Coddington
michael roberts