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January 30, 2013  | by: Emilie Moran
Grace Coddington

Grace Coddington

 

Up until the release of the documentary, The September Issue, in 2009, Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue was relatively unknown. However, try as she might, the woman with the flaming red hair and incredible bone structure could not be ignored. Her small, yet significant appearance in the film left viewers wanting more. And more they got.

Late 2012, Coddington released Grace: A Memoir. The published piece was an instant success, loved by many major publications, including Janet Maslin of The New York Times, and Gaby Wood of The Telegraph.

After having received the book as a gift over the holidays, I began reading immediately, and did not stop until I was done less than a week later. Curious about what others thought, I decided to read some reviews online. Although I found that almost everybody loved reading, Grace: A Memoir, some people felt that Coddington had been vague about many parts of her life.

Flickr (CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK)

Flickr (CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK)

I agree with this opinion, but I also believe that the memoir is better because of its vagueness. For example, on one page Coddington is happily married to her first husband, but by the next, she is divorced and dating a famous photographer with no real explanation of what happened in the middle. However, when we ourselves think about our experiences, do we tend to dwell on our mistakes? On the things that make us sad or angry? No, and neither does Grace Coddington. Skipping over certain parts in her life is frustrating to read at first, but made me feel like I was really inside Coddington’s head, like I had a magnify glass in which to view the memories that are most important.

These memories contain all sorts of interesting and wonderful stories: from Coddington’s childhood in Ireland and her days as a model in London, to her time as creative director at American Vogue. Her stories take place all around the world, yet all have one thing in common: the boasting of friendly and sexual relationships with everybody from popular and famous photographers, designers and models, to editors and directors.

As we tend to only remember and dwell on the good old times, we also tend to hype up the positivity of the people and situations we are in, making me wonder; are any of these stories and relationships exaggerated? Since Grace: A Memoir completely takes on the role of a memory story, the idea of reliability of the narrator is an interesting one, but one that does not take away from value of the novel. If anything, this question keeps the reader engaged as we are whisked away to the wonderful world of fashion and design.

What did you think of Grace: A Memoir?

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