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Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
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Business Insights for Women
PNC INSIGHTS Magazine Spring/Summer 2014 Issue
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Vogue's creative director shares her engaging story.

As Vogue magazine's long-standing creative director, Grace Coddington may be a lion of the fashion industry, but, as she writes in her engaging autobiography, Grace: A Memoir, many people had never heard of her--that is until the 2009 documentary The September Issue

In that film, which revolves around the production of the magazine's all-important fall fashion issue, Coddington burst into the public consciousness as the fiery yang to Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour's icy yin. Given that Wintour is widely considered to be the most influential person in the $300 billion global fashion industry, Coddington's gumption was noteworthy, to say the least.

Here are some insights that can be learned from this former model, "It Girl" and photo stylist:

Speak Truth to Power

Certainly Coddington's claim to fame is a lesson in speaking one's mind to those who are used to subordinates doing their bidding in fearful silence. As an employee, Coddington serves her boss Wintour well: disagreeing when she feels it necessary without undermining her boss's authority.

Know Who You Are

Part of Coddington's charm throughout the book is her uncanny ability to be in the very thick of things without losing sight of the Welsh country girl in love with fashion fantasy she remained at heart. In her modeling heyday, Sixties London swung around her: She hung out with the Rolling Stones, modeled for Norman Parkinson and other famous photographers, married famed restaurateur Michael Chow, and became Vidal Sassoon's most influential muse. Through it all, she remained forthright, independent and unimpressed by celebrity.

Focus on the Work

Similarly, Coddington, while no businessperson herself, acknowledges that fashion and publishing are businesses, despite the aura of glamour. She refutes the notion that fashion photography is art, and pays careful attention to budget, scheduling and especially outcome, producing fashion spreads that please advertisers, inspire readers and sell more clothes.

 


 

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