Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

or
clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 Life Lessons from Grace Coddington's Memoir Excerpt

Kirstin Sinclair for Getty Images

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.


"September Issue" scene-stealer Grace Coddington, via Getty


Vogue.com has published an excerpt from their creative director Grace Coddington's upcoming memoir. Like Coddington herself, it's quippy and lighthearted but also chock full of fashion history. The whole thing is worth a read, but here are a couple of the most memorable bits, taken from the section about her start as a model in London.

1. Even if you don't have perfect bone structure, you can still make it with your personality.

"I was considered avant-garde and fashionable rather than pretty."

2. If Mom is proud of you, that's all that matters.

"I didn't go back home to visit too often in those days, but whenever I did, [my mother] proudly showed me photographs of myself snipped from various magazines. In fact, quite a few were not of me at all but of other, similar-looking girls. "That's not me," I'd tell her. But she would say, "Oh, well, it's a nice photo and I like it anyway," and pop it back into my file."

3. No matter the time period, French people will always be cooler than you.

"They could be pretty bitchy, those fashion-mad French girls. I would never dare talk back to them. For me, the French were always so superior in matters of style. England was cool but never chic."

4. If you have to have sex, it might as well be with someone named Tinker Patterson.

"I undressed, put on my nightie, pulled down the top sheet, and there, neatly laid out on the pillow like one of those little chocolate mints you find in boutique hotels nowadays, was a condom. "What is this?" I wondered. I really hadn't a clue. Moments later, to my surprise, I was joined by Tinker carrying a steaming cup of cocoa and looking adorable in his stripy cotton pajamas. But his air was not that of someone about to read me a bedtime story."


5. Rock your own style, even if a more famous model steals it later.

"Each girl had her own individual style when it came to piling on the makeup. My particular thing was to draw an extra-wide stroke emphasizing the crease of the eye socket and add extravagantly long, spidery lines below the eye, a little like doll's lashes, then paint a dot toward the inner corner for reasons I can't exactly articulate except that it looked nice and "now." Later I discovered my crazy new eyelash look being called "twiglets" and credited to the young British model Twiggy. Well, they were very much mine. I was probably doing them before she was born!
· Grace Notes: An Excerpt from Grace Coddington's Memoir [Vogue]
· Grace: A Memoir [Amazon]