At the beginning of 2016, Grace Coddington stepped down from her role as creative director of American Vogue. She assumed a newly created role, creative-director-at-large and, for the first time since joining the publication in 1988, was permitted to work on external projects. “I’m not running away from Vogue, because it has opened so many doors,” Coddington told BoF. “But it will be nice to collaborate, and nice to go out [and] give talks to people.”
Coddington began her career as a model in London’s swinging sixties. Having won a Vogue modelling competition she was featured in the magazine’s “young ideas” section. Coddington, or “The Cod” as she became known, soon established herself on the London scene, thanks in no small part to Vidal Sassoon creating his iconic five-point cut on her “incredible bones, and marvellous neck.”
However, a car accident at the age of 26 cut Coddington's modelling career short. But since Coddington worked in front of the camera at a time when models were responsible for their own hair, makeup and accessories, her ability to improve a shoot by styling herself was such that British Vogue editor Beatrix Miller offered her a job as a junior fashion editor at the publication two years after the car accident.
Coddington immediately excelled and continued to do so, working her way up the ranks at British Vogue to the position of senior fashion editor in 1976. In 1987 Coddington left Vogue to become design director at Calvin Klein . Klein would later go on record saying that Coddington was the first European fashion editor to fully appreciate American design.
Anna Wintour , a past colleague, asked Coddington to join US Vogue as creative director in 1988. Wintour told Mark Holgate, “When she accepted I was over the moon.” After three decades at the magazine, Coddington made the decision to pursue external projects while still remaining involved as editor-at-large. “It’s just another approach. I’m certainly not going into retirement. I don’t want to sit around,” Coddington told BoF.
Her romantic, rich and detailed aesthetic is consistently rooted in powerful visual narratives that rely upon beauty, not allegory, to be compelling. Coddington’s vision and approach are at the very heart of the entire industry.
Having spent a year in the halls of American Vogue, following its inhabitants, R.J. Cutler, director of The September Issue said, "Every billboard, fashion magazine spread, every advertisement we see today has been influenced by Grace Coddington."