Meet “Some Thoughts From,” our series of short features spanning some of the industry’s most notable designers, editors, models and other industry insiders, sharing their thoughts on anything and everything fashion. Up this week: former Vogue creative director, Grace Coddington, who served as Anna Wintour’s right hand for nearly 30 years, until very recently when she stepped out of the role in order to focus on other non-Vogue projects, such as a fragrance with COMME des GARÇONS and a creative partnership with Tiffany & Co.
On modern day fashion: I should have been born in another century. I am kind of too old-fashioned for this crazy fashion business, but when I say that, I’m not referring to fashion as much as to the fact that everything has become about computers and blogs and all those things that I can’t come to grips with. Half of me doesn’t want to come to grips with them. I think those kinds of things have changed the world so that everybody now multi-purposes and multitasks, which makes it hard for people to focus on what they’re doing and where they are in the moment. I think that’s a sad loss in life. I think you have to live a little bit more in the moment and appreciate and see. It is what I’ve always done in my life—just look at where I am. That’s why I love going on the subway in the morning. There are so many wonderful people on the subway.
On Anna Wintour’s ice-cold persona: I think she enjoys not being completely approachable. Just her office is completely intimidating. You walk about a mile in the office before you get to her desk. And I’m sure it’s intentional.
On her own persona: I also think some people were surprised at what they saw in The September Issue because I think I had a reputation before for being sort of cold and austere. You know, there was me and there was Liz Tilberis, and Liz was always the friendly one who chatted with everyone, and I was the one who didn’t chat with anyone. But then that movie came along and people saw that I was very passionate.
On her trademark hair: You know, I was lucky enough to be born with really good hair. The red hair. That’s all they notice when they see me coming. My look is always quite specific because I don’t like halfway things. It’s even specific now. It’s black and red. I don’t think it’s predictable, but it’s very handy.
On why clothes are outlandish and extreme-looking on the runways: You have to have a bit of fun in life, and that’s why they do it, and they do it to get your attention. … When you go back to [the designers’] showrooms, you’ll find the more commercial versions of that, but it’s to get across a point. I mean, you have to say it in a strong way to get across a point. So if you want to go short, they go very, very, very short on the runway, but you’ll find in the showroom, it’ll be a reasonable short that you can wear. … We photograph the more commercial things, and we photograph the extreme things because — for the same reason, to make the same point — you have to say it strongly so people can see the difference between last season and this season, and you have to feed them the information. If you’re too subtle about it, you’re not going to get it.
On why actresses, not models, are on the cover of Vogue magazine: You have to be interesting to such a wide variety of people, and I guess right now, actresses just do it better. They certainly sell more magazines than models, sadly. I’m very sad about it. I wish it would go back to models, but I don’t think it will, just because that’s what the people demand. They want to see the latest actress who is in the latest movie, and that’s what we do; we keep up with that — whoever is appearing in whatever movie is the movie of the moment. And the general public find that more interesting than a model — and also there are not so many very strong models that could hold a cover right now — again, I say sadly.
On Instagram: I hate Instagram, actually. I think it really interferes with people’s lives and things and it’s pathetic how everyone’s photographing everything they’re eating all the time. Everybody uses it instead of reading the newspapers these days. People want you to know that they’re holidaying in Greece. I mean, really. The first one I posted, my whole account got taken down because I was naked, which was ironic: It’s a goddamn cartoon!