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Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned publicity-averse Grace into a sudden, reluctant celebrity. Grace’s palpable engagement with her work brought a rare insight into the passion that produces many of the magazine’s most memorable shoots.   With the witty, forthright voice that has endeared her to her colleagues and peers for more than forty years, Grace now creatively directs the reader through the storied narrative of her life so far. Evoking the time when models had to tote their own bags and props to shoots, Grace describes her early career as a model, working with such world-class photographers as David Bailey and Norman Parkinson, before she stepped behind the camera to become a fashion editor at British Vogue in the late 1960s. Here she began creating the fantasy “travelogues” that would become her trademark. In 1988 she joined American Vogue, where her breathtakingly romantic and imaginative fashion features, a sampling of which appear in this book, have become instant classics.   Delightfully underscored by Grace’s pen-and-ink illustrations, Grace will introduce readers to the colorful designers, hairstylists, makeup artists, photographers, models, and celebrities with whom Grace has created her signature images. Grace reveals her private world with equal candor—the car accident that almost derailed her modeling career, her two marriages, the untimely death of her sister, Rosemary, her friendship with Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Liz Tilberis, and her thirty-year romance with Didier Malige. Finally, Grace describes her abiding relationship with Anna Wintour, and the evolving mastery by which she has come to define the height of fashion.   NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY FINANCIAL TIMES “If Wintour is the Pope . . . Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.”—Time


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Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned publicity-averse Grace into a sudden, reluctant celebrity. Grace’s palpable engagement with her work brought a rare insight into the passion that produces many of the magazine’s most memorable shoots.   With the witty, forthright voice that has endeared her to her colleagues and peers for more than forty years, Grace now creatively directs the reader through the storied narrative of her life so far. Evoking the time when models had to tote their own bags and props to shoots, Grace describes her early career as a model, working with such world-class photographers as David Bailey and Norman Parkinson, before she stepped behind the camera to become a fashion editor at British Vogue in the late 1960s. Here she began creating the fantasy “travelogues” that would become her trademark. In 1988 she joined American Vogue, where her breathtakingly romantic and imaginative fashion features, a sampling of which appear in this book, have become instant classics.   Delightfully underscored by Grace’s pen-and-ink illustrations, Grace will introduce readers to the colorful designers, hairstylists, makeup artists, photographers, models, and celebrities with whom Grace has created her signature images. Grace reveals her private world with equal candor—the car accident that almost derailed her modeling career, her two marriages, the untimely death of her sister, Rosemary, her friendship with Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Liz Tilberis, and her thirty-year romance with Didier Malige. Finally, Grace describes her abiding relationship with Anna Wintour, and the evolving mastery by which she has come to define the height of fashion.   NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY FINANCIAL TIMES “If Wintour is the Pope . . . Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.”—Time

30 review for Grace: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    Grace Coddington is the foul-mouthed creative director of American Vogue who first became widely known in the documentary film, The September Issue. She was such an odd character in the film that when I first heard she had written a memoir, I though, now there is a woman who must have some interesting stories to tell. And she does have some very interesting stories to tell, but the sad thing about this memoir is that she is not remotely good at telling them. It is, I suppose, not too surprising t Grace Coddington is the foul-mouthed creative director of American Vogue who first became widely known in the documentary film, The September Issue. She was such an odd character in the film that when I first heard she had written a memoir, I though, now there is a woman who must have some interesting stories to tell. And she does have some very interesting stories to tell, but the sad thing about this memoir is that she is not remotely good at telling them. It is, I suppose, not too surprising that a woman who has spent her life working with visual images and confesses to having only read two books as an adult would not have natural writing talent. But the editors really failed her by not finding her a co-writer who could tease her stories out of her in a more competent fashion. As it stands, this book is less memoir than it is a list of events - what she did, when she did it, and who was there, with an occasional anecdote thrown in. Major life changing events, such as being in a disfiguring car accident right when her modeling career was taking off, or miscarrying at 7 months after her car was overturned by soccer hooligans, are dispensed with in a paragraph or two. Perhaps this is because she is a private person, but I closed this book without having gained much insight of any kind into not only Grace herself, but also her work. For example, she talks about her lunch interview to make the transition from model to fashion editor, but never describes what it is a fashion editor actually does. At one point she comments that it took her years to understand the link between gay culture and fashion fantasy, but doesn't bother to explain what it was she came to understand. I wanted to read this book because I was intrigued that a woman who wore flat shoes, no makeup and had crazy hair would hold such a high position in an industry so heavily focused on looks. I thought she would have a lot of insights to share about the impact of fashion on culture and have fascinating things to say the artistry behind her industry and its depiction in media. I also hoped to hear her commentary on the fashion industry's obsession with unhealthy levels of thinness. But aside from a short chapter in which she says she doesn't think women should get plastic surgery, there is very little in the way of insight here. If you are interested in a running commentary on what models and photographers were working where when, it might be worth reading. Otherwise, I'd give it a pass to avoid the frustration of knowing that there's a good story in there somewhere that simply isn't being told.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Like most of the people who know who Grace Coddington is, I first became aware of her when I watched The September Issue, a documentary about the creation of an issue of Vogue magazine. Anna Wintour was intended to be the focus of the film (thanks to her becoming a household name after the success of The Devil Wears Prada) but it was Coddington, the creative director of the magazine, who stole the show by stomping around in her sensible shoes, rolling her eyes at Photoshop abuse, and going head- Like most of the people who know who Grace Coddington is, I first became aware of her when I watched The September Issue, a documentary about the creation of an issue of Vogue magazine. Anna Wintour was intended to be the focus of the film (thanks to her becoming a household name after the success of The Devil Wears Prada) but it was Coddington, the creative director of the magazine, who stole the show by stomping around in her sensible shoes, rolling her eyes at Photoshop abuse, and going head-to-head with Wintour whenever something was cut from one of her photo spreads. She seems like an incredibly cool person, and the fact that she's been working constantly in the fashion industry since the 60's is nothing to sneer at. This book is an in-depth look at her rise in the industry, starting with her winning a modeling competition in her teens and ending with her job at Vogue. In between are a lot of fun details about the fashion industry (it's really cool to see how it's changed since Coddington first started out - when she was a model, she was expected to do her own hair and makeup for shoots), plus some gorgeous descriptions of runway shows, and lots of fun name-dropping, like this excerpt: "During a dinner at the Brasserie Balzar in Saint-Michel with Linda Evangelista and the photographer Peter Lindbergh, Linda's cell phone rang, and a distraught Naomi [Campbell] came on the line, babbling about [Mike] Tyson. 'Come over here immediately,' insisted Linda, forever the supermodels' head troubleshooter. Naomi dutifully arrived trussed up in a tight little Azzedine Alaia dress, her hair totally disheveled, her tights shredded. She had apparently been with Tyson when he had spun alarmingly out of control. 'So I 'ad to 'it 'im over the 'ead with me 'andbag,' she memorably said (the bag in question was a fairly large, sturdily constructed model). And so it was off again. But not for long." The only thing lacking is a sense of reality - Coddington is firmly entrenched in the vain, fantastical world of fashion, and it can begin to feel suffocating at times. In an unintentionally hilarious passage, she describes seeing Zoolander and calls it "a crass and truly mind-numbing experience", completely missing the point of the movie. Although, in Coddington's defense, it's hard to maintain a sense of perspective when you've been in the same business for over forty years. She even addresses The Devil Wears Prada, although briefly. She writes, "When I first heard that a former assistant of Anna's had written a book, I thought, 'How disgracefully disloyal' and 'What a horrible thing to do.' Basically, she was making money out of making fun of Anna's character." And then Coddington delivers a truly magnificent burn when she writes simply, "I don't remember the girl at all." BOOM. If nothing else, this memoir is fantastic because of the amount of photos included - besides candid photos of Coddington throughout her life, there are a ton of magazine covers and fashion spreads included, ranging from the early 1960's to 2012. Even if you don't care about fashion (which honestly, I don't) the photographs are stunning, and the book's inside look at a secretive and unknown world is fun and compelling.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bayneeta

    I believe this was in a Woodridge "Bookletters Daily" email. Liked the movie September Issue; figured this would be interesting. Lots and lots of names dropped. I recognized only a very small percentage of the hundreds mentioned: big name designers, a handful of models, and a few photographers. All pretty superficial. A miscarriage suffered when 7 months pregnant and said to be the most devastating event of her life gets three lines; her love of cats gets a chapter. Audio read by the author. 02/2 I believe this was in a Woodridge "Bookletters Daily" email. Liked the movie September Issue; figured this would be interesting. Lots and lots of names dropped. I recognized only a very small percentage of the hundreds mentioned: big name designers, a handful of models, and a few photographers. All pretty superficial. A miscarriage suffered when 7 months pregnant and said to be the most devastating event of her life gets three lines; her love of cats gets a chapter. Audio read by the author. 02/20/13: If the subject is of interest, it's worth looking at a copy of the book. Some photos, lots of her cartoonish drawings, and a number of pages of her Vogue pictures.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    She has a cat psychic. 'Nuf said. She has a cat psychic. 'Nuf said.

  5. 5 out of 5

    J

    Book club is nearing and I haven’t been able to get this book from the library (d’oh!), so I went out and bought it. An unusual practice for me. It was $35! When did books start costing that much?! I was prepared to dislike the book after buying it, but charged ahead because I had to get it read this week. Opening the book to find large print, wide margins and frequent drawings/photographs was a breath of fresh air. Despite myself, I was charmed with Grace’s recounting of her childhood. However, Book club is nearing and I haven’t been able to get this book from the library (d’oh!), so I went out and bought it. An unusual practice for me. It was $35! When did books start costing that much?! I was prepared to dislike the book after buying it, but charged ahead because I had to get it read this week. Opening the book to find large print, wide margins and frequent drawings/photographs was a breath of fresh air. Despite myself, I was charmed with Grace’s recounting of her childhood. However, around page 80, Grace gets more involved in fashion and time, truth and morals become extremely relative. By page 135, I had disconnected from the story and was just reading to finish the book. Bed hopping, marriage hopping and general bad behavior isn’t interesting or glamourous to me. I’d give the book 2-stars, if the first few pages hadn’t been so romanticized and endearing. The book gives a first hand account of basically everyone in the fashion industry, and I could see how that would be interesting to many people. I’ve read a few fashion books and casually follow fashion; but I only recognized about 30% of the people mentioned, so you’d have to be an insider already to catch all the references. The last couple chapters contained some ridiculous stuff about her cats and their feelings as interpreted by Grace’s trusted pet psychic. I kid you not. Fast read. Visually attractive. Read in one long day at home.

  6. 4 out of 5

    JZ NJ

    dear Grace, Like many others I enjoyed you in the movie The September Issue! You broke the mold- feisty, opinionated oozing with style and artistic vision! So I was excited to download the e book from the library, and am glad I didn't pay for this book, Where was the Grace Coddington I discovered in The movie? Sorry to say after reading the first half, enjoying your life's journey from small English town to London fashionista, but skimmed the second half, which became a slog of minutia about your da dear Grace, Like many others I enjoyed you in the movie The September Issue! You broke the mold- feisty, opinionated oozing with style and artistic vision! So I was excited to download the e book from the library, and am glad I didn't pay for this book, Where was the Grace Coddington I discovered in The movie? Sorry to say after reading the first half, enjoying your life's journey from small English town to London fashionista, but skimmed the second half, which became a slog of minutia about your daily life. Am sure he fashion world is pleased to be named in your book, because you didn't miss any, it seems. Perhaps many of your new found fan base won't read this book, and you'll continue to be followed by those smitten with you, which you seem to rightfully enjoy. I know under that exterior of red flaming hair and size 12 or larger body, there's another book which would address the anorexia and eating disorders of the fashion industry,but despite including photos with you bone thin, I missed the sections where you address these industry issues- the message the fashion world sends our youth. Shame,- I expected more- didn't even read your cat chapter.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Like most viewers, I was captivated by Grace Coddington in the movie The September Issue. The movie prompted her to write her memoirs despite initially eschewing the new-found publicity. This book is a description of Grace's life to date accompanied by beautiful, quirky line drawings sketched by her of people and places. I think they are clever and endearing. There are lots of rich and famous names used in the book, but in the right context and definitely not 'name dropping' as these people are Like most viewers, I was captivated by Grace Coddington in the movie The September Issue. The movie prompted her to write her memoirs despite initially eschewing the new-found publicity. This book is a description of Grace's life to date accompanied by beautiful, quirky line drawings sketched by her of people and places. I think they are clever and endearing. There are lots of rich and famous names used in the book, but in the right context and definitely not 'name dropping' as these people are part of Grace's life. I have never had the opportunity or inclination to become part of the fashion industry but I find it intriquing. It is its own microcosm. I was interested she thought Christy Turlington is the most beautiful model she has worked with. The chapter on her cats and her cat pyschic had me smirking as obviously you can't work at Vogue and not be touched somewhat by fashionistas and their whims. Grace is a remarkably talented woman, growing up on a small island in North Wales to becoming creative director at American Vogue working alongside Anna Wintour and still working in that demanding role at 71 years of age.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elsie Grimes

    If you watched the 2009 documentary film ‘The September Issue’ about Vogue Magazine’s Editor in Chief Anna Wintour, the most revered – and feared – woman in fashion, then you would have definitely taken notice of a certain flame-haired Creative Director by the name of Grace Coddington. Introduced to the mainstream due to the behind-the-scenes look at the magazine’s staff and how they put together the 4 pound September 2007 issue, Coddington has been involved in the industry – first as a model, th If you watched the 2009 documentary film ‘The September Issue’ about Vogue Magazine’s Editor in Chief Anna Wintour, the most revered – and feared – woman in fashion, then you would have definitely taken notice of a certain flame-haired Creative Director by the name of Grace Coddington. Introduced to the mainstream due to the behind-the-scenes look at the magazine’s staff and how they put together the 4 pound September 2007 issue, Coddington has been involved in the industry – first as a model, then as the magazine doyenne we all know about and love today – for an admirable half a century and her highly anticipated memoir chronicles all those years in an industry which has dramatically changed from a small, niche business into a global phenomenon and is filled with her own insider stories, vintage photographs and hand-drawn illustrations, cataloguing a lifetimes worth of work. Although not as feared as the elusive Wintour herself, Grace Coddington is just as revered in fashion circles around the globe due to her unwavering passion as well as her belief that fashion itself should be both transporting and provocative and who refreshingly bemoans the dominance of celebrities in fashion photography. Comparing the fashion world then and now, she takes us on an incredibly juicy journey first as a model, then as a fashion editor for British Vogue and finally as creative director for American Vogue confiding in the reader a host of colourful stories behind many of the fashion shoots she has styled as well as also opening up about her private life including details about failed marriages and the tragic death of her sister. After winning a modeling competition in British Vogue as a teen, Coddington became an overnight success, quickly becoming a sort of ‘it’ girl who ‘ran with a fast crowd’ that included Jane Birkin and the Rolling Stones. Famed hair stylist Vidal Sassoon even made her his muse by creating his famous five-point cut on her and she was constantly snapped for the society pages as well as for the covers of magazines (one of which was, incidentally, Vogue). Her modeling career however was horribly derailed not long after by a serious car accident which left her scarred. Later, moving from in front of the cameras to behind the scenes she became editor of British Vogue then followed Wintour to American Vogue in 1988 where she has – as Creative Director – effectively become the heart and soul of a magazine with Wintour calling her ‘the jewel in the crown’ of Vogue itself. A must read book for anyone interested or involved in the fashion industry, it gives you a great insight into the minds of one of this century’s truly fascinating figures as well as a sneak peek into a world accessible to the very few. My review first appeared on Alchemy.com: http://alchemymag.com/?portfolio=book...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book has been super hyped up. I’ve read glowing reviews in all manner of places. And while Grace Coddington seems like a fun, lively gal most of this book fits squarely in the “I don’t give a crap” category. It’s written in a very rambling fashion and although I love clothes I’m not deep into the fashion world so 80% of the names she drops (designers, photographers, models) meant nothing to me. Speaking of rambling, there is a long windbag of a chapter about her cats. I like cats and all bu This book has been super hyped up. I’ve read glowing reviews in all manner of places. And while Grace Coddington seems like a fun, lively gal most of this book fits squarely in the “I don’t give a crap” category. It’s written in a very rambling fashion and although I love clothes I’m not deep into the fashion world so 80% of the names she drops (designers, photographers, models) meant nothing to me. Speaking of rambling, there is a long windbag of a chapter about her cats. I like cats and all but um, what? She spends way more time talking about her pets in detail (and their personalities) than a single human in her book, including her various ex-husbands. Honestly, there is little to no substance in this book. She is also very catty (ha ha, get it?) in a breezy manner. Calling people frumpy and whatnot. Not that I’ve never called a person frumpy but certainly not in a public forum. Interestingly I haven’t seen The September Issue, the documentary which spawned this book, but I still plan to watch it. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed this book more had I seen that first. I will say her little sketches throughout are very charming. Those are actually the highlight of the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Light but enjoyable. I know some critics have complained that Grace glosses over certain major life events but I took the book for what it was. It is true that I would have liked a little more depth and feeling but Grace's story is interesting nonetheless and she has a good "voice." Although she is a very visual-oriented person and even professes to "not being a reader" she does not seem like a complete idiot. She seemed quite bright in passages. Also, it was interesting to learn a few things abo Light but enjoyable. I know some critics have complained that Grace glosses over certain major life events but I took the book for what it was. It is true that I would have liked a little more depth and feeling but Grace's story is interesting nonetheless and she has a good "voice." Although she is a very visual-oriented person and even professes to "not being a reader" she does not seem like a complete idiot. She seemed quite bright in passages. Also, it was interesting to learn a few things about the fashion world (I subscribe to Vogue but am only middling interested in high fashion). At the very least Grace had me on the internet to find out what "bias cut" meant! Also, the drawings were cute and I liked the photos from her early days. I am staggering between two stars and three stars but I think it's only going to get two because she was just too flip and fast with some things - her miscarriage, the divorces, I would have liked to heard more about her nephew Tristan too. Oddly enough for someone who "doesn't read" the book was more cerebral and didn't have a lot of heart. Except when it came to the cats!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristie Helms

    I spent a good majority of this book thinking it was pretty plodding. It felt like tons of name-dropping to me. I had a difficult time finding an "in" or a way to relate. I'm not into fashion. I'm not a hugely visual person. I'm not an artist. I just didn't understand the world she was trying to convey. Towards the end of the book though, she had this wonderful section devoted to her cats. Just really lovely -- and something that I as a fellow pet lover could absolutely relate to. Give your pets I spent a good majority of this book thinking it was pretty plodding. It felt like tons of name-dropping to me. I had a difficult time finding an "in" or a way to relate. I'm not into fashion. I'm not a hugely visual person. I'm not an artist. I just didn't understand the world she was trying to convey. Towards the end of the book though, she had this wonderful section devoted to her cats. Just really lovely -- and something that I as a fellow pet lover could absolutely relate to. Give your pets whole personalities! Upend your whole reality (and house) for them! Sleep in another bedroom for a year just to make them more comfortable! Absolutely -- that world makes sense to me. And I realized... her book wasn't about name-dropping at all. It was about her reality. Just because I didn't completely understand that world, I shouldn't dismiss it out of turn. I should just step into it. And learn. Lovely read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andee Marley

    Looking for a quick vacation-read. I watched The September Issue and also walked past this book in Anthropologie the other day, so I thought it would be fun. I got in from the library on my iPad and read it mostly on my front porch. That was the best part of this book. Other reviews are better at explaining this but, Grace has admitted to reading very little in her adult life. She is in a profession that tells stories through images. This book is impossible to follow, poorly written and sounds li Looking for a quick vacation-read. I watched The September Issue and also walked past this book in Anthropologie the other day, so I thought it would be fun. I got in from the library on my iPad and read it mostly on my front porch. That was the best part of this book. Other reviews are better at explaining this but, Grace has admitted to reading very little in her adult life. She is in a profession that tells stories through images. This book is impossible to follow, poorly written and sounds like tweet or a voicemail or a non-ending stream of thought. Major life events are casually scattered among dinner parties and travel. Marriages and divorces pop-up at the strangest of times. Careers evolve from modeling to editing and back to modeling and I have no idea when or how. I have no idea what Grace Coddington does for a living or who she is at all, in fact, I no longer care.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisamarie Landreth

    Grace Coddington's memoir is a tough read even for those well-versed in the world of high fashion, haute couture and its proprietors. What should of emerged as a devastatingly candid portrayal of the evolution of the fashion industry from WWII to present day and the emergence of the modern glossy, was little more than a run-down of events sequenced thematically as opposed to chronologically. The book felt unchartered and rushed, disappointing and skippable. If you're looking for the real Devil W Grace Coddington's memoir is a tough read even for those well-versed in the world of high fashion, haute couture and its proprietors. What should of emerged as a devastatingly candid portrayal of the evolution of the fashion industry from WWII to present day and the emergence of the modern glossy, was little more than a run-down of events sequenced thematically as opposed to chronologically. The book felt unchartered and rushed, disappointing and skippable. If you're looking for the real Devil Wears Prada story, stick to the documentary The September Issue on Netflix.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tilda

    Don't expect anything too deep here, if you are after an insider's critique of the problematic norms and culture of the fashion industry, you won't find it here. But if you want breezy anecdotes of a life well-lived, filled with parties, affairs, fashion and travel, Coddington has got it. This book helped pull me out of my pandemic reading slump: it's very readable and the drawings very charming. Sometimes I craved a bit more introspection and analysis of fashion's flaws and then I remembered no Don't expect anything too deep here, if you are after an insider's critique of the problematic norms and culture of the fashion industry, you won't find it here. But if you want breezy anecdotes of a life well-lived, filled with parties, affairs, fashion and travel, Coddington has got it. This book helped pull me out of my pandemic reading slump: it's very readable and the drawings very charming. Sometimes I craved a bit more introspection and analysis of fashion's flaws and then I remembered not everything has to be a Washington Post article. It's fun.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Written as a series of well-illustrated articles, the book reflects Grace's background as a fashion editor. She says it's ironic that since she's read only two books in her lifetime that she is writing a book, but she has overseen thousands, if not millions, of pages like these. The description of her childhood pulled me in. You can feel the stateliness of beautiful of the inn her parents ran and the changes in lifestyle brought on by a full house in the summer and the emptiness of winter. There Written as a series of well-illustrated articles, the book reflects Grace's background as a fashion editor. She says it's ironic that since she's read only two books in her lifetime that she is writing a book, but she has overseen thousands, if not millions, of pages like these. The description of her childhood pulled me in. You can feel the stateliness of beautiful of the inn her parents ran and the changes in lifestyle brought on by a full house in the summer and the emptiness of winter. There is plenty for a lonely girl to explore in the woods and the bay. Grace attends a strict Catholic school. She speaks of her shyness around the other girls. With her family as members of the Church of England, she is an outsider. While Grace's parents ran this picturesque inn, they would never own it. By primogeniture it was inherited by Grace's mother's brother, and when he died it went to another brother. In this regard, Grace is much like Pamela Churchill Harriman in coming from a family where resources went through the male line with no thought to the future of the daughters, and the view that a high school was sufficient education. Grace, like Pamela a generation before, made her way in the world. Grace is to be credited for her achievement despite the odds and competition. She writes as though her career just fell into place. I don't mind the understatement, but there is no reflection on the competitive environment or the hard work, patience and savvy it had to have required for success. The narrative, for me, never reached the level of the prose used to describe her childhood. There were some good topics but they were often punctuated with names I didn't know and descriptions of what Grace and others wore. I'd love to know more about minimalist housekeeping with the first husband, or how one starts a restaurant which he seems to do so easily. The insight in to the fashion sense of Russia and China at the dawn of their opening to the west were absent from the description of the on site fashion shoots. There was not enough on how the magazines were run or how pages and stories were and are selected and put together. At the end, Grace touches on aging and beauty, but nowhere does she approach any discussion on the requirements for models in today's fashion industry. The photos she presents show the generational changes in the female fashion image with no explanation. Her awareness of this change seems to be limited to nostalgia for glamor of the 50's and 60's. She writes of the falsity of plastic surgery but nothing on why fashion editors continue to promote unrealistic youth and body images or the decisions and pressures she faced in making artistic choices that either led or followed the trends. I was not surprised nor disappointed that Grace did not "dish". The parts on Anna Wintour were appropriate and descriptive enough so that you understood her presence and leadership in Vogue and what their relationship was and is. As a very creative magazine editor, Grace knows how to make a page look good. Her line drawings make the book. She is also generous with color photos of her life and work. Because of what it lacks, this is a 2 star book. For its honesty (however limited in scope) and the importance (in the fashion industry) of the person it comes from I give it 3 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    This is the best memoir I have ever read. Grace Coddington has such a distinctive voice, and she's incredibly candid about her life and career. Over and over as I read this book I was amazed because Grace is so different from what we would imagine a fashion legend to be. You know, like Miranda Priestley in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA or her real life inspiration, Anna Wintour, who is Grace's boss at VOGUE. Every time I thought I knew how Grace would react to something, she would say something totally d This is the best memoir I have ever read. Grace Coddington has such a distinctive voice, and she's incredibly candid about her life and career. Over and over as I read this book I was amazed because Grace is so different from what we would imagine a fashion legend to be. You know, like Miranda Priestley in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA or her real life inspiration, Anna Wintour, who is Grace's boss at VOGUE. Every time I thought I knew how Grace would react to something, she would say something totally different. She just seems to un-stuck up about having been a beautiful fashion model, and coming from an old English family, and getting to associate with the richest, most famous, and most glamorous people in the world. You get the impression -- and I mean this in a good way -- that she's more excited about spending time with her cats than about hanging out with supermodels and rock stars. There are times when she seems a bit cold, of course, but it's really astonishing how honest she is about her limitations, emotionally, creatively, and every other way too. She's very much like, "well, here I am, if you think this is interesting. Here's what I can do and here's what I can't do and here's what I won't do. Take it or leave it." The other thing is that she's totally not a snob, not about money, or clothes, or about nationalities either. She never comes out and says it, but you can see very clearly in her life story that America gave her the chance to be free and creative in ways England never could. And she knows that. Ironically, I never really enjoyed those fancy photo layouts in VOGUE, or even the magazine itself, because everything always seems so fake and artificial and separated from the natural world. Yet when Grace Coddington talks about her life she just seems totally natural and down to earth. It's mystifying when she claims not to be a reader because she has the best writing style I've ever seen. I hope she lives to be a hundred and writes ten more books!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary Holland

    Before reading this book, see the documentary "The September Issue". The film started as a documentary on Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and as a rebuttal to "The Devil Wears Prada". Unfortunately for Anna Wintour, she is so controlled and expressionless that the director uses Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue, as her foil. Grace steals the picture, and it ends up being far more interesting watching Grace manage photo shoots, argue with Anna, and in general live a far more vibr Before reading this book, see the documentary "The September Issue". The film started as a documentary on Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and as a rebuttal to "The Devil Wears Prada". Unfortunately for Anna Wintour, she is so controlled and expressionless that the director uses Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue, as her foil. Grace steals the picture, and it ends up being far more interesting watching Grace manage photo shoots, argue with Anna, and in general live a far more vibrant life. The funniest sequence is when Grace, who hates being followed by a camera crew and complains about and to them during the entire picture, ends up including them in the final photo shoot for the magazine. She's charming and wickedly funny. The memoir (or at least the book contract) was inspired by the movie. Grace is at her most interesting talking about her early life as a model in London, her friends, her family, and her creative ideas. Too much of the book is lists of names of photographers, designers, models, and celebrities she meets and works with. But buried in the lists are some interesting stories, although she's a blander in print than on camera. I suppose lawyers read the manuscript. By the way, she's a cat fanatic and the chapter on cats, and the great drawings, are almost the best of the book. All the drawings are Grace's work. I wouldn't get this as an ebook unless there was some way to view the extensive color photographs at the back before you buy it. It is almost a coffee table book and some of the photos are so amazing even in hardback you'd like them to be larger.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    Like most people I fell in love with Grace Coddington after seeing her in the Vogue documentary The September Issue. Though she plays down the fanfare she received for being so optimistic, down-to-earth and real when compared to the cold and calculating Anna Wintour, I still count her among one of my biggest female inspirations. Her memoirs are a quick and entertaining read that touch upon various aspects of her personal life and career from her childhood in Wales to her modeling career in Londo Like most people I fell in love with Grace Coddington after seeing her in the Vogue documentary The September Issue. Though she plays down the fanfare she received for being so optimistic, down-to-earth and real when compared to the cold and calculating Anna Wintour, I still count her among one of my biggest female inspirations. Her memoirs are a quick and entertaining read that touch upon various aspects of her personal life and career from her childhood in Wales to her modeling career in London/Paris and the beginnings of her current life in New York City and at American Vogue. What I love most about Coddington is her honesty, her great passion and work ethic and her great ability to move forward despite whatever hardships attempted to block her path. She was recently interviewed in The New York Times about her memoirs and a couple of quotes stuck out to me most: "Anyway, it wouldn’t hurt young designers, or anyone for that matter, to have “a few things going wrong in their life,” she said. “I mean, I hate to say it, but it teaches you a hell of a lot, you know.” // “A lot of people said, ‘You got sort of hit on the head and moved on quickly,’ ” she said, “and I say, ‘Well, I’m not going to grind it in, say, poor me, poor me.’ Boring!” I think the spirit of those two statements beautifully sum up the best parts of Grace's character... and the best parts of her memoirs.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Happyreader

    On the surface, this fashion memoir is a fun piece of fluff, like a good Vogue magazine piece. Fast paced with lots of glamour. Yet beneath the surface, there’s some real pathos – marriages and romances broken due to infidelities, career-damaging and fertility-ending accidents, a tragic, wayward sister, and a best friend lost to cancer. At first, I found it odd that the most serious events in her life passed with the lightest mentions and then I thought it appropriate. As she repeatedly states, On the surface, this fashion memoir is a fun piece of fluff, like a good Vogue magazine piece. Fast paced with lots of glamour. Yet beneath the surface, there’s some real pathos – marriages and romances broken due to infidelities, career-damaging and fertility-ending accidents, a tragic, wayward sister, and a best friend lost to cancer. At first, I found it odd that the most serious events in her life passed with the lightest mentions and then I thought it appropriate. As she repeatedly states, she’s a private person. She’s sharing what she loves about her craft and who she admires in her much-loved profession. Frankly, the rest is none of our business. Very stylishly done.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha L.

    What a fun, breezy read! If you've watched The September Issue, then you can just hear Grace narrating the whole book. It's a welcome relief to know she and Anna Wintour have been colleagues for years who respect and like each other. There's a lot of fun fashion history, too. So glad I bought myself this. It's a beautiful book, full of Grace's fun illustrations, and definitely worth buying to have that lovely orange copy on your shelves. What a fun, breezy read! If you've watched The September Issue, then you can just hear Grace narrating the whole book. It's a welcome relief to know she and Anna Wintour have been colleagues for years who respect and like each other. There's a lot of fun fashion history, too. So glad I bought myself this. It's a beautiful book, full of Grace's fun illustrations, and definitely worth buying to have that lovely orange copy on your shelves.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christina McLain

    This is a great book that is long on description of the fashion industry of the past 55 years and of the great fun Grace Coddington had as a model in the 60's in Swinging London and of the fabulous social scene she enjoyed in the'70's and onward as a creative force working for such luminaries as Calvin Klein and the ever icy Anna Wintour aka Nuclear Wintour at American and British Vogue. She comes across as a low maintenance bohemian but driven to by her love of fashion and design. As a kid grow This is a great book that is long on description of the fashion industry of the past 55 years and of the great fun Grace Coddington had as a model in the 60's in Swinging London and of the fabulous social scene she enjoyed in the'70's and onward as a creative force working for such luminaries as Calvin Klein and the ever icy Anna Wintour aka Nuclear Wintour at American and British Vogue. She comes across as a low maintenance bohemian but driven to by her love of fashion and design. As a kid growing up in Anglesey Wales, Vogue magazine kept her going amidst all the fog and Celtic gloom of her chldhood. The only complaint I would have is that "the Cod "as she is sometimes affectionately referred to,keeps her cards close to her chest bringing British reticence to a new low. We hear about some pretty painful stuff: a miscarriage, the tragic death of her older sister, several betrayals by superfluous men but we never get much of a hint about her feelings at the time. Perhaps that is how she managed to survive in such a cutthroat world. The text is spiced up by some of her whimsical drawings which chronicle her life and times. Wanted more and didn't get it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Skaar

    This book made me literally dream away in the same fashion (pun intended) I used to do as a teenager. The world of fashion is such a fascinating one and Grace, with her wit, stubbornness and feet on the ground, wins over the reader with this memoir. A delight to go through the accompanying photos from all decades, not to mention her scribbles of the characters we get to know along the way. A must have coffee table book which must be read too!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Malpiszon

    3 for writing style, 4 for bringing me closer to fashion world and history, 5* for amazing personality and no celebritism

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    If you have not seen the documentary, The September Issue, rent it or Netflix it now. It's beautifully filmed and no matter what your interest in fashion, I don't think you can help but be intrigued by the personalities of Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington. I came away with a real appreciation for the art that is the Grace Coddington fashion spread shoot despite having no interest in Vogue myself prior. I of course thought I was so clever in cheering for Grace in the documentary - the anti-Anna If you have not seen the documentary, The September Issue, rent it or Netflix it now. It's beautifully filmed and no matter what your interest in fashion, I don't think you can help but be intrigued by the personalities of Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington. I came away with a real appreciation for the art that is the Grace Coddington fashion spread shoot despite having no interest in Vogue myself prior. I of course thought I was so clever in cheering for Grace in the documentary - the anti-Anna in so many ways. She is bohemian in dress, lack of makeup, and her wild mass of red hair. She argues with Anna and fights for what she wants professionally while everyone else kowtows to Anna. They are contemporaries who clearly respect each other and the dynamic is fascinating. All of this to say that the movie sparked my interest in reading this memoir to learn more about Grace Coddington. The first revelation is how The September Issue made her a bit of a celebrity - now recognized wherever she goes in her adopted hometown of New York City. I am not sure why I was so surprised that it was not just me who came to love her in that film. So my expectations were high for this book I think and perhaps I was a bit disappointed. The second was that it seems like she still considers herself to be quite fashionable from her modeling days. I expected her to spend more time talking about the contrast between her seemingly non-fashionable self presentation with her keen eye for fashion for the magazines. In the movie, this contrast was definitely part of the intrigue for me. She sails through descriptions of various major life events in a sentence or two - particularly as it relates to relationships. So you never feel like you're really getting to see behind the self-described shy exterior. In contrast, pages and pages and pages are devoted to the cool people she hung out with in her youth, her modeling career and particularly the photo shoots she has styled for fashion magazines. I recognized maybe 1/3 of the names dropped - seemingly hundreds of photographers, models, hairstylists, fashion executives, designers, and restaurants. Then there's an entire chapter about her love of her cats. Ok - I don't like cats but I can understand the connection and maybe I would have been more interested in this if I felt like she gave any human the same amount of time or reflection. The one person other than one ex-husband and her current longtime love - a hairstylist of all things which was fascinating to me given her hair in The September Issue - whom she does talk about at some length is her best friend, another contemporary in the fashion world. I was a bit turned off by this chapter because it seemed clear that she still holds a grudge against her and I did not think it was a flattering or kind portrayal. For instance, I don't want anyone to contrast me to them by saying that I am shorter and chubbier.... So all in all, a light look behind the scenes of the world of fashion modeling and fashion magazine photo shoots. She clearly found her passion early in life and loves and excels in what she does. She has lived a full and fabulous life. But it just never goes far enough into the person of Grace Coddington vs. the professional for me and left me slogging through page after page of fashion detail hoping for more.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marie Highby

    Fun to Read This book truly was a great escape. I now know much more about Vogue and Harpers Bazaar than I ever did before. Grace Coddington pulls you into her world with charm and “grace.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Terri Durling

    Grace Coddington's love of fashion and cats alone make me love her and want to know her better. For someone who doesn't read, she has done a great job of writing her memoir. It is jam packed with interesting facts on her career beginning as a model and culminating as creative director of American Vogue, a magazine she adored from childhood. Her illustrations are perfection and add a whimsical flavour to her story as they are very much a part of her, in fact even in this digital age she continues Grace Coddington's love of fashion and cats alone make me love her and want to know her better. For someone who doesn't read, she has done a great job of writing her memoir. It is jam packed with interesting facts on her career beginning as a model and culminating as creative director of American Vogue, a magazine she adored from childhood. Her illustrations are perfection and add a whimsical flavour to her story as they are very much a part of her, in fact even in this digital age she continues to sketch the fashions she sees at shows. Her quirkiness is adorable; her personal and work style is intriguing; her personality is unique. She stayed true to who she was never wavering and I commend her for the fashion world is surely one of the most difficult to navigate as so full of pretence and narcissism. She did not secomb to plastic surgery, Botox or fashion that did not define who she was as a person. That is true style! I would have loved her as a friend and particularly loved the tale of her friendship with fellow fashion icon, Liz Tiberius, told poignantly and honestly from the heart. It would have been nice to elaborate a bit more on some of the more personal aspects of her life such as her miscarriage which, although referred to as one of the worst moments in her life, is barely mentioned. It is almost too detailed about her work and everyone associated with it, in particular the models, photographers and designers who were a big part of that world. Oddly though, her family is barely mentioned in comparison. Had this book been a bit more balanced in regards to her personal life versus her work life I would have given it a 5 star. Loved the mixture of photos distributed throughout and the various examples of her work in the magazines she worked for.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Grace by Grace Coddington is a memoir of the model and Vogue creative director. She writes about her early life in a lonely Welsh hotel with her family, her first journey away from home to be a model in London and through her years spent with the fashion elite in Europe and America. The book is full of glamorous photo shoots, exotic locations and parties thrown by the top fashion players in the world. Grace is not so much a memoir as it is a primer on who's-who in 20th century fashion. Coddingto Grace by Grace Coddington is a memoir of the model and Vogue creative director. She writes about her early life in a lonely Welsh hotel with her family, her first journey away from home to be a model in London and through her years spent with the fashion elite in Europe and America. The book is full of glamorous photo shoots, exotic locations and parties thrown by the top fashion players in the world. Grace is not so much a memoir as it is a primer on who's-who in 20th century fashion. Coddington actually explores very little of her own life. After the first couple of chapters about her time before she started modeling, there is virtually no personal exploration after that, until she devotes a whole chapter near the end on her cats. She glosses over marriages, deaths in the family and tumultuous relationships. The rest of the book is a wide view of fashion from the 1960s until today. It is full of name-dropping and discussions on how chic one designer is over another in certain periods of the author's life. The one redeeming quality the book has is that it features the many of the covers and magazine spreads discussed in the book so you don't have to imagine what they look like—they are all right there. This book certainly isn't for everyone. The average reader may find the writing a little bit pretentious, since not everyone is of the jet set and may not relate to most of what is written about. Those who would really enjoy reading this book are those who are making sure the author dropped their name at least once in the book or budding fashionistas who need to know the past in order to work in the present fashion industry. *Reviewer received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carolann

    I have recently begun working for my local county library system. Really, it is like letting an addict loose in a pile of happiness. I now spend five - sometimes six - days a week at the library, surrounded by rows and rows of books ... beautiful, beautiful, free books. As such, you can normally find me - during my lunch break - leafing through the collection and checking out more books than I can possibly read. It is in this new position, surrounded by so many novelistic opportunities, that I d I have recently begun working for my local county library system. Really, it is like letting an addict loose in a pile of happiness. I now spend five - sometimes six - days a week at the library, surrounded by rows and rows of books ... beautiful, beautiful, free books. As such, you can normally find me - during my lunch break - leafing through the collection and checking out more books than I can possibly read. It is in this new position, surrounded by so many novelistic opportunities, that I discovered my newfound love of audio books. While I loathe ebooks, I adore audio books. I pop into the branch during the day, grab a new batch of CD's and listen as I work. 'Grace: A Memoir' was my latest listen. In my opinion, biographies can be either terrific or tedious - there is no in-between. 'Grace' was enchanting. There was not a single moment of reminiscence reeking with the odorous scent of lies. The memoir was intelligent, whimsical, relatable, lacking any of the standard subterfuge synonymous with still-living memoir authors - and read by none other than shy and accented Grace Coddington herself, which made the tome that much more charming. Read More

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a random collection of stories from the creative director at Vogue. Coddington says she has only read 2 books in her life and maybe that's why she has written such a terrible book. Actually I hesitate to give her credit for writing it, I really think that she was interviewed and then her answers were transcribed and assembled into this book. The first part of the book when she describes her childhood is organized and has some sense of narrative but as soon as she leaves to go to London t This is a random collection of stories from the creative director at Vogue. Coddington says she has only read 2 books in her life and maybe that's why she has written such a terrible book. Actually I hesitate to give her credit for writing it, I really think that she was interviewed and then her answers were transcribed and assembled into this book. The first part of the book when she describes her childhood is organized and has some sense of narrative but as soon as she leaves to go to London to become a model, the stories jump around and are mostly I went on this photo shoot with this photographer and this amusing thing happened. It annoyed me that there were no pictures together with the photoshoot stories, I was reading it on the kindle so I couldn't flip around to see the groups of pictures. And then there was the cat chapter. Yes, an entire chapter about her various cats and their personalities and the animal psychic that she uses to communicate with them. If I was mildly interested in the book before that part, she lost me there. I finished it but I really can't recommend it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andd Becker

    This memoir written by Grace Coddington with Michael Roberts is essential reading for the fashionista crowd. Grace populates her book with names of famous models, hairdressers, makeup artists, designers, photographers, editors, and well-known fashion celebs such as Anna Wintour. She speaks kindly about persons she has worked with at British VOGUE and at American VOGUE. Fashion has been Grace's passion since childhood. Grace dreams about cats, not fashion. She writes about eight beloved cats. H This memoir written by Grace Coddington with Michael Roberts is essential reading for the fashionista crowd. Grace populates her book with names of famous models, hairdressers, makeup artists, designers, photographers, editors, and well-known fashion celebs such as Anna Wintour. She speaks kindly about persons she has worked with at British VOGUE and at American VOGUE. Fashion has been Grace's passion since childhood. Grace dreams about cats, not fashion. She writes about eight beloved cats. Her own drawings of cats and sketches of herself in designer clothes add an extra dimension to the book. Sketching is nothing new for Grace, who sketched each outfit whenever she attended fashion shows in Paris, Milan, and New York. Grace Coddington is a fashion icon whose vision inspires readers/viewers to use their imagination. Her view of fashion, past and present, will delight readers who embrace the concept of self-expression through fashionable clothing. I received this book free through the goodreads FIRST READS program.

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