Grace Coddington with Phaidon commissioning editor
Grace Coddington with Phaidon commissioning editor

At home with Grace Coddington

Watch Vogue’s Creative Director talk fashion, art and tricky celebrities with Phaidon's Billy Norwich

Earlier this year, we at Phaidon were very proud to welcome William Norwich as our new Commissioning Editor for fashion and interior design. Billy, as he is known to his friends and colleagues, is the former style and entertaining editor of The New York Times Magazine and former editor-at-large and columnist for Vogue U.S. He was also an editor-at-large for House and Garden, and the U.S. editor of British Vogue. If you want pedigree you've come to the right place!

With a CV like that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Billy is on good terms with Grace Coddington, the British-born Creative Director of American Vogue and author of our newly reissued book, Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue.

 

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In fact you can see just how well they get along in these two videos, created by the Emmy Award-winning producer and filmmaker Elizabeth Hummer. Grace and Billy were filmed in Grace’s New York apartment, which is filled with books and artwork. Look out for a copy of our Fashion Book on the shelves, as well as a rare Guy Bourdin drawing painting on the wall.

"We did these segments in the apartment Grace lived in for 20 years," Billy tells Phaidon.com. "Elizabeth produced a series I did for a US television show called Full Frontal Fashion. My series was called “The Bigger Picture, the idea being that behind the famous facades of fashion people there exists more private passions and enthusiasms. Grace had never done any television before this segment but she agreed."

In the videos Grace discusses her love for America – “everything in life is possible here” – as well as her attitude to shooting celebrities  – “I hate having to deal with them,” she says. “I like working with models; the clothes hang right!”

 

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She does, however, have some kind words for Puff Daddy (as he was known when the video was shot in 2002), who really added something to one of Grace’s Kate Moss shoots, and Ben Stiller, who was, according to Coddington, “a real sport.”

Her greatest insights, of course, come when she discusses the fashion business. Coddington began working for Vogue in 1959 - after entering a competition to solicit new models - back when models had to do their own hair and make-up. Now obviously, huge packs of specialists attend shoots, conferences and runway shows. Grace has some fairly well-defined opinions about these developments, as you can gather from the two clips.

Watch the interviews in full and for deeper insight into Grace’s life and work get a copy of Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue here, and if you're in New York on Thursday, get down to Marc Jacobs' Bookmarc store, where Grace will be signing copies at around 6pm.