From her childhood in Anglesey, Wales – to becoming one of the most powerful stylists in the fashion business, then becoming an international superstar in her 60’s thanks to her starring role in the documentary, The September Issue – Grace Coddington has led a life more than worthy of being told in a book.
Which she has now done. The book – titled Grace A Memoir has hit the shops and ELLE have already bagged our copies, cancelling all weekend plans in order to begin devouring it straight away. Going right back to her childhood on a tiny Welsh island, Grace describes her first brushes with the industry she would pursue her five-decade career in;
Back home I often attempted to make outfits similar to the sophisticated looks worn by the actresses on the big screen. Throughout my teens I made most of my own wardrobe - even suits and coats - on our Singer sewing machine, which you worked with foot pedals. I never made anything outrageous. My mother allowed me to dress only in relatively conservative clothes. Everything else she knitted for me. As many old photographs will attest, my mother seldom stopped knitting. She took her knitting everywhere, night and day, making things that were the bane of my life because they would become saggy, especially the knitted bathing suits: saggy and soggy.
And how, at the earliest opportunity – the world of fashion provided her with the escape route she desired;
Through my teens, people had remarked upon my height, saying I was tall enough to be a model (probably because most Welsh girls are pretty short). My old school friend Angela always encouraged me, saying, 'Let's go to London. You can go to modelling school, and I can get a job as a secretary, and we will see where it leads.' Before I left home, I cut out and posted a coupon from the pages of Vogue. It was a tiny paragraph in the back of the magazine promising, for 25 guineas, a life-transforming two-week course at the Cherry Marshall Modelling School in Mayfair.Modelling seemed like an escape into a world of wealth and excitement, a chance to travel to new places and meet interesting people. At the very least, I reasoned, it could lead to a greater social life, a respectable home, and marriage, all of which would make my mother deliriously happy. Besides, I loved seeing beautiful clothes in beautiful photographs and dreamt of being part of it.
'Grace: A Memoir' by Grace Coddington (Chatto & Windus) is available for £25