Grace Coddington, at age 70, has been the Creative Director of Vogue magazine for the past 20 years. Her candour, her irascibility, her commitment to her work, and her always fresh and original take on fashion has made her, after Anna Wintour, the most powerful person in fashion. Acquired after an intense auction among every major publisher, this woman who became an unwilling celebrity captured the hearts of everyone when she was revealed in the movie as the creative force behind the throne at Vogue. Having grown up on a backwater island in Wales, she came to London just in time to be discovered as a dazzling model by the famous Norman Parkinson, then went on to shape the pages at Vogue for 19 years where she worked as Creative Director with many luminaries including the young Wintour. Lured by Calvin Klein to run his New York operation she then jumped back to American Vogue when Wintour returned to America in 2003. She has been there ever since.
"Don't expect me to be in it," was what Coddington, Vogue's creative director, said when her boss Anna Wintour told her that R.J. Cutler was making a documentary about the fashion bible (2007's The September Issue). Coddington, ever shy and diligent, was not only in it, but became the film's heroine by standing for creative expression and old-fashioned practices rooted in her deep appreciation for the fundamentals of fashion (she's one of the few remaining fashion editors to dress her own models). This preciously illustrated and honest memoir is written in a delightful colloquial style that will appeal to fashion insiders and average readers. Coddington weaves a story with fairytale beginnings (she clipped modeling school coupons while poring over outdated issues of British Vogue.), some drama (A car accident almost took her life, led to five surgeries and ended her modeling career.), and humorous tidbits (a "raccoon incident" during lunch with Wintour at the Four Seasons, or the time Coddington, who has never asked for a raise in her life, was mistaken for an assistant during an early visit to Conde Nast.) What's a woman who has worked with all the top photographers and models to do? Keep creating the exquisite fantasy worlds she's known for, of course.