Admittedly, I was nervous to see what Grace Coddington was like in real life. For those of you who are not card carrying members of the Coddington Cult like my mother and I, Grace Coddington has been creative director at large for American Vogue since 1988 (incidentally, the same year that Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief). Grace entered the spotlight after The September Issue, a behind-the-scenes documentary that revealed the exhausting process of putting together a September issue of Vogue. My mother and I were in awe of Grace's creative genius and earnest commitment to her art when we watched the documentary, and we were not alone in our admiration. The film highlighted the sometimes confrontational working relationship between Wintour and Coddington, with Wintour being cast as the icy villain who dismissed Coddington's artistry. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Grace at the private release for her new book Grace: The American Vogue Years and hear her speak about some of her favorite editorial work for the magazine.
I wondered if Grace would be as approachable as she appeared in The September Issue and if the charming voice that had been so evident in her writing would be the same in person, or if it had all been a clever marketing persona. I am happy to say that Grace was exactly as you'd expect her to be. When asked about her relationship with Wintour, Coddington responded with total...shall I say it?...grace. While I'm sure her audience craved a catty aside about Anna the Ice Queen, Coddington did not indulge in a petty character assassination. She spoke about Wintour with total respect and appreciation, and even explained how their different personalities ultimately worked well together and helped to refine every issue of the magazine. I thought this spoke volumes about her work ethic and character. Even more than her impressive artistic abilities, Grace Coddington's most noteworthy quality is her sincerity, something that is rare in an industry that has become so saturated with artificial personal branding. It was refreshing to see that these "real people" still exist in creative fields. How rare is it to meet the hero of a media fairy tale and have them not be disappointing in person? Grace Coddington is truly an icon.