​10 reasons we love grace coddington

As Grace steps down as American Vogue's Creative Director, we celebrate the super stylist’s incredible career and remember all that she has taught us!

by Lynette Nylander
21 January 2016, 10:30pm

You've reached a certain level of power in fashion when you are known by your first name: Miuccia, Phoebe, Anna. And then, there is Grace -- the flame haired super-stylist who has led the creative direction of American Vogue for more than 25 years. After kicking off her career as a model at 19, she switched to the other side of the lens at 28, joining British Vogue as a Junior Editor, before becoming the magazine's Photo Editor -- a position she held for nearly 20 years. In 1988, she began working with Wintour at American Vogue, and her star has been on the rise ever since.

Although Grace has long been a fashion industry legend, it wasn't until her appearance in 2009 documentary The September Issue that the world fell in love with her calm demeanor, cheeky one-liners and warm spirit -- the perfect antidote to the at-times steely Wintour. While Grace will remain at the title in an at-large capacity and contribute four shoots a year, this is a massive move. It marks a moment in which one of fashion's leaders loosens the reigns on the magazine that made the world know her name. We'll be waiting eagerly for what she does next, (she's already got a Comme des Garçons project in the pipeline). Until then, let's look back on ten reasons why we love Ms. Coddington.

1. She came from humble beginnings: Grace became a i-D cover star in 2012, sealed with a breathtaking shoot by Arthur Elgort. In the accompanying interview with i-D founder Terry Jones, she talks about growing up on Anglesey in Wales, going to school at the local convent, and catching the bus to London with a copy of Vogue in her pocket to become a model. And so her career began...

2. She's the real hero of the The September IssueWatching Grace at work in The September Issue, it's hard not to fall in love with her. She's hilarious. Whether it's balking about having to work with photography legends, ("I can't shoot everything for the rest of my life with Steven Meisel in Alder Mansion, which is an ugly fucking house") to her reassuring words to portly cameraman Bob, ("You know, personally I think it's better that you're not like skinny-skinny. Everybody isn't perfect in this world. I mean, it's enough that the models are perfect") Grace kept us entertained all throughout the documentary. 

But our favorite quote from the film came as Grace ambled through the Palace of Versailles while on a shoot in Paris. "Always keep your eyes open…keep watching, because whatever you see out the window, or wherever, can inspire you," she thoughtfully observed. Wise, wise words. 

3. She makes us believe in the fantasy of fashion: Grace's shoots consistently defy the limits of our imaginations; through the pages of a magazine, she transports us to a completely different world. Whether imagining Natalia Vodianova as a modern day Alice in Wonderland or creating Kate Moss' candy-coated nirvana, Grace doesn't think of just the clothes, but takes an active role in creating an image. All Instagram 'creative directors' take note: this is how it's done.

4. Her anti-fashion uniform is the epitome of true style: There is surely no brand that doesn't love Ms. Coddington. And given her close proximity to the world's most exciting designs, you'd think she'd have her pick of the clothes for herself -- not so. She rarely seen straying from her simple uniform: black tailored pants and matching black button down. She's living proof that keeping it understated is truly stylish.

5.You can be in a high-profile fashion couple and not court the cameras: Grace has been in a relationship with hairstylist Didier Malige for more than 30 years, but the pair are pretty low-key -- they're rarely photographed together. The couple lives with their cat, Bart, in a gorgeous apartment in Chelsea -- one that reportedly contains Chanel throw pillows and cat cushions (gifts from Nicolas Ghesquière). 

6. She's the ultimate red head: No one has made red hair made more beautiful than Grace. Her fiery mane frames her face and has become her trademark -- it's quite hard to picture her without it. Julianne Moore and Emma Stone are alright, but Grace is our ultimate red head any day.

7. She's still a true believer in the power of print: She might have a bias, but Grace champions printed projects. In System Magazine's sixth issue, David Owen of IDEA Books asked Grace why print still matters in the digital age: "When I did my memoir, they said, 'We're going to do an e-book,' and I said, 'Oh please don't!' But they did. Well, I think so. I haven't seen it. I don't care."

8. She's so major she has her own memoir: After theThe September Issue shone a spotlight on the super stylist, Grace became a reluctant celebrity. But her 2012 memoir helped us learn more about her. She talks about her days working with David Bailey and Norman Parkinson as well as her personal relationships with Didier and Wintour. Of her often depicted soft side, Grace reveals in the book, "I can, too, be a bitch sometimes." The memoir has already been optioned by a production company, so we might be seeing Grace's story brought to big screens sometime soon!

9. She loves cats... a lot: She's a bonafide cat lover. Together with boyfriend Didier, she published The Catwalk Cats, a tribute to their feline friends. Grace -- who is apparently in talks to turn the book into an animated film -- and Didier play up the striking parallels between felines and fashionistas (there's really no difference in a catfight). They also explore the animal's importance in any cat lover's life.

10. Grace represents the hero in all of us: There's chemistry in a Coddington shoot that's impossible to replicate. She's the reason many of us have fallen head over heels for fashion. She has a way of making us believe anything is possible. She's responsible for providing for a platform to some of the world's greatest designers. She's relentless in her pursuit of beauty and has bravely brought her impeccable, unique taste to hungry readers around the world. But Terry Jones said it best: "Grace represents the hero in all of us, an uncompromising creative, with a true belief in fashion as art that's lovingly translated into everything she does."

We salute you, Grace!


Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Arthur Elgort
Styling Stella Greenspan

Grace Coddington