Grace's great photographer Tim Walker gets a V&A show

Described by Coddington as the most English of Englishmen, Walker is the star of a V&A exhibition next year
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Sethu Ncise, Jermaine Downer, Will Sutton, Zuzanna Bartoszek and Sara Grace Wallerstedt. Fashion - Moncler 1 by Pierpaolo Piccioli. London, 2018. © Tim Walker Studio, London. Image courtesy of the V&A
Sethu Ncise, Jermaine Downer, Will Sutton, Zuzanna Bartoszek and Sara Grace Wallerstedt. Fashion - Moncler 1 by Pierpaolo Piccioli. London, 2018. © Tim Walker Studio, London. Image courtesy of the V&A

Though she's based in America, Grace Coddington was born in Britain, and remains partial to the English way of doing things, particularly when it comes to one of her favourite photographers, Tim Walker.

“The most English of Englishmen,” is how Grace describes him in our new book Grace: The American Vogue Years. “Tim thrives on his fantasy world, bringing to life a sense of old-fashioned charm, meticulous in all its detail. He can be exceptionally tenacious: once he gets an idea in his head, he’s like a dog with a bone and simply won’t let go. Fortunately, this usually works to our advantage."

 

Maja Salamon, Ola Rudnicka, Codie Young, Esmerelda Seay-Reynolds, Nastya Sten, Sasha Luss, Alexandra Kivimäki, and Alice Cornish in paper dresses and jewelry created by  Rhea Thierstein. Hair, Julien d’Ys; makeup, Lucia Pieroni; production design, Rhea Thierstein; London, May 2014. From Grace: The American Vogue Years and Saving Grace: My Fashion Archive 1968-2016
Maja Salamon, Ola Rudnicka, Codie Young, Esmerelda Seay-Reynolds, Nastya Sten, Sasha Luss, Alexandra Kivimäki, and Alice Cornish in paper dresses and jewelry created by Rhea Thierstein. Hair, Julien d’Ys; makeup, Lucia Pieroni; production design, Rhea Thierstein; London, May 2014. From Grace: The American Vogue Years and Saving Grace: My Fashion Archive 1968-2016

Now other venerable British institutions are seeing things from Grace's point of view. The Victoria and Albert Museum announced a few days ago that it would host an exhibition dedicated to Walker's work in 2019. Opening 7 September 2019, the show will examine "the creative process of one of the world's most inventive photographers through his photographs, films, photographic sets, and special installations," says the V&A. 

 

Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen; headpiece, Julien d’Ys. Hair, Julien d’Ys; makeup, Stéphane Marais; set design, Andy Hillman; Paris, April 2012. From Grace: The American Vogue Years and Saving Grace: My Fashion Archive 1968-2016
Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen; headpiece, Julien d’Ys. Hair, Julien d’Ys; makeup, Stéphane Marais; set design, Andy Hillman; Paris, April 2012. From Grace: The American Vogue Years and Saving Grace: My Fashion Archive 1968-2016

Can't wait 14 months? Well, here's a little insight into some of Walker's best-loved images, such as this one (above) of Kate Moss, taken in Paris back in April 2012.

“Vogue’s documentation of the Paris Ritz, a few days prior to its years-long closure for extensive refurbishment, provided the requisite whimsy for Tim,” Grace explains. “It was his first shoot with Kate Moss, whom he instantly adored, and she was the ideal subject: the Ritz was her home away from home. The fashion was from that season’s richly elaborate couture shows and was the perfect foil for the hotel’s fading grandeur. Somehow it summed up the end of an era."

Walker’s tenacity served him just as well in his 2014 tribute to the 20th century couturier Charles James. “In our Charles James spread, inspired by Cecil Beaton’s famous group portrait, the gorgeous – ivory-colored dresses and accessories were actually made of paper ­created by the set designer Rhea Thierstein ­– an idea from Tim’s prolific imagination.”

 

Karen Elson in Louis Vuitton. Hair, Julian Le Bas; makeup, Polly Osmond; England, June 2003. From Grace: The American Vogue Years and Saving Grace: My Fashion Archive 1968-2016
Karen Elson in Louis Vuitton. Hair, Julian Le Bas; makeup, Polly Osmond; England, June 2003. From Grace: The American Vogue Years and Saving Grace: My Fashion Archive 1968-2016

Indeed, Walker and Coddington seem so well matched that, even when events conspire against them, the pictures still look stunning. In our book Grace recalls a trip to the English seaside resort of Blackpool to shoot the model Karen Elson.

“The whole thing was so kitsch and fun, except for the hotel we were staying in. It was shabby, stank of cigarettes, and brought back unfortunate memories of my only childhood holiday with my family back in 1950: the moment I arrived I became sick from eating too much cotton candy on the pier and was confined to bed in a similarly run-down hotel for the rest of my vacation.”

For more on Tim, Grace and plenty else besides, invest in our Grace Coddington collection; for more on the ever-lovely Kate Moss, take a look at this.


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