SUBRAYADOS: GRACE / A memoir

Grace Coddington es la persona que más admiro en la industria de la moda. Su historia y su trabajo me inspiran. Hace un par de meses leí “Grace: A memoir”  y confirme el por qué de mi devoción hacia ella. Vivir siendo una romántica que crea fantasías y a través de la ropa cuenta una historia. See beauty in the bleakness. Inspirarse con lo que sea que esté a nuestro alrededor. Hacerse sentir necesario. Saber que no existe cosa tal como un estado estático. Mirar. Viajar. Ver. Sentir. Sonreír. Dudar. Temer. Ser.


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 “My feeling has always been that people should concentrate on their jobs and not all this fashionable ‘I want to be a celebrity’ shit”. 

“Although it was bleak, I saw beauty in the bleakness”.

“Abstinence quietly drove my parents further apart, but I didn’t notice that at the time. I was just happy to have my father for myself every night. At night he would tickle my arm and tell me stories until I fell asleep. It’s strange how little I remember of him, except that I adored him. As the years passed he became an increasingly melancholy figure. In wintertime he would sit for hours in front of the small electric fire in our room. He developed a terrible, wracking cough brought on by the packets of unfiltered Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes he smoked continuously. By now he had taken to visiting the betting shops, where he lost considerable sums on the horses. He would then pawn all the jewelry he had given my mother, hoping to recover it the following week if ever he enjoyed a big win”.

“I did not attend the funeral. That was my mother’s decision; she said I was too young. On the day of the burial, I wandered around the empty fields behind our hotel, grieving, not understanding what death was at all about, feeling inconsolable loss yet wanting to be part of what was going on. I remained on my own until all the friends and relations returned for their postfuneral tea and cake”.

“From the time I began to read children’s comic transported me to cheerier places”.

 “Seeing a story visually rather than in words was what I was responding to”.

“…and there, in the darkness I would completely give myself up to the word of celluloid”.

“I loved all the boys with soft, sad eyes and lost souls”.

“Even when I was a child, Vogue was already on its way to being my magazine of choice”.

“Presumably, Harper’s Bazaar was around then, too, but for me it was always Vogue. I bought it for the fantasy of looking at the beautiful clothes, and I liked getting lost in the pages”.

“Leafing through the magazine, I was fascinated by the new styles, those ladylike fifties outfits implying a softer, more approachable type of glamour than that which dazzled me at my local cinema. But what I particularly loved were the photographs themselves, especially those taken outdoors. They transported me to all sorts of exotic places – places where you could wear that kind of thing”.

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“The more someone gets angry with me, the calmer I become, a policy I have stucked to all my life”.

“I was fifteen when I fell madly in love for the first time”.

“My heart was broken. We wrote to each other every week for some time. But eventually, I fell for someone else, and we lost touch. Absence, I guess, did not make the heart grow fonder”.

“Modeling seemed like an amazing escape into a world of wealth and excitement, a chance to travel to new places and meet interesting people […] besides, I loved seeing beautiful clothes in beautiful photographs and dreamed of being part of it”.

“There we would sit, sipping our afternoon tea, as a fashion show went on around us. It was our fashion fix! I was so amazed at how the models walked – with that precarious slant, as if they were about to topple over backward– and how they could pause, turn, and move around the little tea tables so elegantly and hold their gloves in a certain expensive manner”.

“Unlike now, when everything is done for them, a model back then had to apply her own eyeliner, shape her browns, and put on her lipstick. She also had to set and style her own hair, back-comb it and fold it into a neat chignon, or make the ends curl outward in the look of the time, the ‘flick-up’. Makeup artists and hairdressers who specialized in photo shoots were completely nonexistent. Each model was expected to own a model bag, and what she put into it was terribly important. There was no such thing as a stylist, either, so the better your accessories, which you carried into your bag too, the more jobs you were likely to get”.

“But however well equipped you might be, as with most of the situations in life, friends with influence are much more useful than face powder and rouge”.

 “I was a ‘character’ rather than a pretty model, and I suppose that’s exactly what I look for in the girls I now select to put in American Vogue – the ones who are quirky-looking”.

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“I pick my models as if I were casting a film, because I’m choosing a girl to play a role. I don’t like it when they complain, but I’m happy to look after them when they don’t”.

“We used to drink and dance till dawn in those early days but had the youthful stamina to bounce back in the morning”. 

“I was overcome with unashamed nostalgia for the landscape’s wild romantic beauty […] yet in the little side streets I could still detect quirky pockets of charm and character”.

“Everywhere I went, I bought something else and invariably had to buy extra suitcases to carry my haul back home”.

“Fashion became of even greater significance to me at the height of the sixties, when I began regularly flying to Paris for work”.

“But with the arrival of cheaper, mass-produced clothes – later known as ‘ready to wear’– we models had the freedom to express ourselves and behave in a more dynamically modern fashion”. 

“It was a wildly gregarious time for me, unlike today, when I prefer a quieter life and rarely go out to dinner with more than one other person”. 

“Paris was crawling with models and their relatives, boyfriends, and hangers-on, because at that time the fashion scene wasn’t just concentrated around collections time; it was fashion central all year round”.

“For me, the French were always so superior in matters of style. England was cool but never chic”.

“It scared me to be that much out of control. So in situations involving a great deal of alcohol, I somehow managed to simply stop drinking and go home […] the other thing that never hooked me was drugs […] and even though I don’t mind being a bit relaxed, joints never did it for me either”.

“The apartment was beautiful, but it never felt like a home to me”.

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“But in the end the lack of possessions was beguiling, and I began to appreciate how cleansing it was to live this simply”.

“Assistants are a crucial lifeline for a fashion editor, and I always become attached to mine”.

“Making money has never been a great concern of mine (I have never asked for a raise in my life)”. 

“When I first arrived at British Vogue it was fun going to the fashion shows– a different kind of fun from how it is now. We weren’t there to be seen or be fabulous. Everybody was kind of anonymous, there to look at the clothes […] there was no music, no scenario, and no drama to distract you from examining the clothes”.

“The couture in Paris was much more exuberant and exciting, but still one hundred percent about the clothes. Scores of dedicated petit mains and hundreds of man-hours combined to give us these uniquely fresh creations. Designers like Patou, Scherrer, Givenchy, Ungaro, and Nina Ricci debuted collections that were lighter and younger than those in London and shown on models who conveyed a cosmopolitan and insouciant attitude. These were the looks that dictated the direction of fashion across the world”.

“Yves Saint Laurent was one I never skipped. He was modern. He proposed an entirely different couture, one that reflected the influences of your, popular music, and what was happening in and around the streets of Paris’s Left Bank”.

“Many women in the front row wore gloves. There were certainly smokers; ashtrays on tall stands stood next to some of the chairs. There was always a particular reverential kind of hush about the couture. The ready-to-wear, on the other hand, was much more relaxed and buzz”.

“I always sketch at fashions shows. Drawing jogs my memory more than any photograph. At the time I began attending the Paris haute couture, there was much more secrecy surrounding the collections. The clothes were always hidden away in the designers’ ateliers beforehand beneath large, concealing dustsheets, and there was a strict embargo on releasing any photographs until an agreed-upon publishing date. If this embargo was broken, you were banned from all future presentations for life. While you watched the show you were absolutely forbidden to draw the outfits, although I always did. If any hawk-eyed employee of the salon caught you, both you and your notebook were immediately confiscated and you were ignominiously ejected from the maison on suspicion of stealing: of selling the ideas to manufacturers who could copy them. Those were also the days when you couldn’t turn up one minute late for a show because the door would be slammed in your face”.

“It was all highly contemporary, exquisitely photogenic, utterly enviable domestic bliss…until I fell in love with someone else”.

“We absorbed the atmosphere, waited as long as necessary for the best light and took time off for the models to get suitably tanned”.

“My take on traveling had to do with Parks. He educated me, taking me see that you need to get involved with a place, not just take a bunch of clothes on a plane and photograph them on a beach”.

“Parks taught me so such a lot about how to work when you are in foreign lands, about always keeping your eyes open, as you never know when you might find something inspirational to enhance the photographs”.

“Because she had a journalistic background and was pretty smart, Bea insisted that fashion should have something to say, or at least deliver lively a point of view. ‘I had this idea in my bath this morning’ was something she would regularly said to us”.

“In the seventies and eighties we were usually waiting to see what Saint Laurent had done simply to know in which direction fashion was going. The power of dresses! The grandeur! The girls so tall and imperious! I loved the beginnings of his fashion shows, which started with looks that were mannish and strict, then progressed to the amazing colors of dresses. If you went to Morocco, where he kept one of his most beautiful homes, La Majorelle, set in an intricate perfumed garden that, once seen, was never forgotten, you would understand. Le smoking, his version of a man’s tuxedo for women, so chic and flattering; the indulgence of voluptuousness of the Ballets Russes collection; the Braque collection; Cocteau; Picasso; Russian peasants; Spanish toreadors; Porgy and Bess – so much creativity and such prolific talent that just sitting and watching it was exhausting. I feel very fortunate to have seen those shows; to me, they were like a series of art exhibits. I did faint a couple of times in the early days but I’m not sure if that didn’t come from missing breakfast rather than being overcome by emotion”.

“One thing I shall never forget was the incredible kindness of the shoe designer Manolo Blahnik. He came to my flat when I returned home from my sister’s funeral, consoled me, and kept me company all night so that I wouldn’t be alone. He really helped my peace of mind. It’s remarkable how someone with such a flighty reputation, from the upper riches of fashion, which are so often so heartless and cold, in reality be so thoughtful and caring”.

“There are two things I always required of my assistants. They had to look good and be able to cook, because in the early days there was no such thing as catering at any Vogue photo session”.

“Anna made it clear from the first day that although she liked me and was very supportive, work was work, she was the boss, and that was that”.

“Anna’s Vogue was all about chopping down the skirts and modern girls running through the streets in very high heels”.

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“Anna had taught me that nothing is forever. ‘Let’s just move on, shall we?’ she will invariably say, because she knows you can’t dwell on things you unfortunately cannot change”.

“Bruce Weber’s pictures and his life are one. His photographs are all about relationships, and the people he works with become his extended family”.

“I definitely copied Bruce’s way of propping up hundreds of photographs on shelves and having piles of books dotted about everywhere”. 

“In a relationship you have to give a lot. You can’t be too selfish. You can’t have everything your own way, and you do give up a certain independence. Living with someone all the time is great if you keep it surprising and don’t allow yourself to become too complacent”.

 “If I had skipped Calvin Klein and headed straight to American Vogue, I never would have understood how American fashion works”.

“André is very tall, grand, and overwhelming, a black man of such immense presence and style that you can’t possibly imagine him walking up, looking rough, and having a bad day”.

“The original supermodels were Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Tatjana Patitz, Estelle Hallyday, Karen Mulder, Nadège, Bridget Hall, and Carla Bruni”.

“For a long time I had wanted to use romantic, vintage-looking dresses in Vogue because I’ve always loved them and worn them myself”. 

“John [Galliano] was a designer whose clothes always formed a narrative, and that, of course, was close to my heart”.

“Anna has said I am the only person in fashion who can actually grind her down”.

“David [Bailey] once said to me ‘The great thing about Anna is she doesn’t care whether people like her or not’. I’m not so sure if this is true, but she never seems to falter when criticized. I care whether anyone –from the mailman to the dry cleaner– likes me. Maybe that is my weakness. But not Anna’s.  She does, however, care very, very much about her children. If one of them comes on the phone, I’ve watched her melt, which is not something you very often see with Anna”.

“Fashion is just a part of what the magazine stands for today, which may be hard on old-times like myself but is definitely the modern way”.

“Is fashion art? I think it’s sometimes very creative, but I’m not sure I would call it art; that’s pushing it a bit. I certainly don’t think fashion photography is art, because if it’s art, it’s probably not doing its job”.

“In fashion photography, rule number one is to make the picture beautiful and lyrical or provocative and intellectual –but you still have to see the dress. Of course, I like to push the boundaries; I think that’s the most interesting element much of the time, when you walk the line. But you can’t forget to show the clothes and, in the end, not alter them beyond recognition; to pretend a dress is something it is not is unfair to the reader, too”. 

“For me, the thrill of what I do comes from realizing a look I had imagined in my head”.

“…because, being reserved, I rarely feel comfortable revealing my innermost thoughts to anyone”.

“I hate a lot of makeup in my fashion pictures now, too. I mean, cover a pimple if you must, but it’s fine to have bags under the eyes and a few lines on your face. It’s who you are. Nor am I terrified of looking older”. 

“Do I dream very much? Do I dream predominately about fashion? No. I dream much more about cats.”

“Fashion has changed so much in my lifetime. Today I find myself at the collections, asking, ‘Who are all these people?’ They appear to come from anywhere and everywhere, and ninety percent seem to be uninvited hangers-on. Sometimes I think I’m the last remaining person who goes to the shows for the pleasure of seeing the clothes, rather than desperately wanting to be there for the social side –which is the part of things I have always had to be dragged to, kicking and screaming”.

“Cellphones and texting are a curse and a blessing at the same time […] I liked it before, when you could snuggle down with the telephone and feel like the other person was in the same room”.

“I think that I am probably the last surviving fashion editor who actually dresses the girl rather than leaving it to an assistant. It is so important to me. The dressing room is the only place you have left to communicate with the model and get your opinion across as to how she would stand and what mood should be conveyed, without interfering with the job of the photographer. I’m told other stylists sit down and direct from behind the camera, preferring to have their assistants tug the clothes straight, turn up the collar and push up the sleeves”.

“To me, fashion falls into two categories. It can be instantly appealing and you would like to wear it; or it is something you wouldn’t necessarily wear but it is driving fashion forward”.

“But I’ve grown to realize that life doesn’t stand still and it’s no good being sad about it. For me, one of the most important aspects of my work is to give people something to dream about, just as I used to dream all those years ago as a child looking at beautiful photographs. I still weave dreams, finding inspiration wherever I can and looking for romance in the real, not the digital, world”.

“All I know is that if I continue in fashion, no matter what, my head will always remain firmly attached to my body”.

 


*Ninguna de las imágenes de este post me pertenece. 

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