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Grace: A Memoir Hardcover – November 20, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 214 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Coddington, creative director of the American Vogue magazine, has much to impart (which she has done before in Grace: 30 Years of Fashion at Vogue, 2002, and The Catwalk Cats, 2008). Fashionistas, rejoice, because not only does she chronicle the life and times of a former model turned editor; she also discusses those whose names appear in any celebrity column—photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber, models like Naomi Campbell, and the Calvin Klein and French couture maîtres. What saves this from becoming a download of the activities of the rich and famous is, first, her amazing candor. We learn, for instance, that marriages don’t agree with her, that her sister Rosemary died of a combination OD–hospital malfeasance issue, and that editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is not as portrayed in The Devil Wears Prada. And, second, her charming and lively pen-and-ink illustrations grace every chapter—and almost every page. Just what you would ask for from a revered behind-the-scenes magazine editor is what you get here. --Barbara Jacobs


"If I was only allowed one book in my bookcase, or on my coffee table - this would be it" Fashion Ache "genius... doesn't go far enough" Sunday Telegraph "[A] splashy, dishy, very giftable memoir" The New York Times "An absolutely beautiful book. As you would expect from the creative director of American Vogue, it is both stylish and striking, Coddington is a survivor, and this memoir is testimony to that" -- Sarah Vine The Times "This memoir of a life in style from the 1960s until today will be equally absorbing for those who love the fashion world and those who find it impenetrably alien. Either way, as seen through Coddington's eyes, it is never less than fascinating" -- Vanessa Friedman Financial Times --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780812993356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812993356
  • ASIN: 0812993357
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Charlotte Vale-Allen VINE VOICE on November 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've given this review two stars (instead of the one I considered) because of the charming pen and ink drawings by Grace that populate many of the pages in this book. The narrative, however, leaves just about everything to be desired. Like so many others, my introduction to Grace was The September Issue. Without effort, simply being herself, she walked away with the film. Sadly, the same cannot be said for this book. Grace is not someone who writes and she isn't someone who reads; that's a pretty lethal combo when it comes to creating an autobiography. Even a co-writer can't create magic with an absence of material. Mostly, this is a book of lists - of models, of photographers, of shoots. But there's very little meat and almost nothing of the woman. One comes away with no real insight into Grace; she's a cipher - a recording secretary, in a way. There's just one notable bit of bitchiness when she takes a page to slam the iconic Polly Mellen in a fashion that is surprising in a book where the comments about almost everyone else are basically bland. The only time she really sparks to life is in the last bit of the book when she launches into a detailed discussion of her cats and her abiding love for felines. The rest of the time, there's plenty of words about traveling here and there, and some small insight into the difference between modeling then (in the late 50s/early 60s when she embarked upon her modeling career and much of the time it was a one-on-one situation with just a photographer and a model, possibly an assistant, too) versus the cumbersome group effort it has become today. One yearns for more in the early sections but it's just not there. Grace's reluctance to reveal herself is palpable. And she succeeds. At the end of the book we know precious little more about her than we do at the beginning. Her secrets remain intact, and what the reader gets is a scattering of drawings and some great photos to study. Grace is, by and large, AWOL.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Grace's memoir is a little like movies that can't figure out what they want to be and the tone flip flops around, never sticking to one.

Coddington clearly has had an amazing life and she shows us a slice of cultural history from the inside and if you are interested in the fashion/modeling world during the early days, you will enjoy the book. However, her personal life is woven in and out of her professional life in a very uneven fashion. She glosses over the most painful parts of her life, but then delves a tiny bit deeper into other parts so you think you're going to get a juicy memoir sometimes, but you never do.

Her reporting of the early days is extensive and interesting, as we move into the current day, she gets less detailed and less interesting. We don't anything about how she really felt about almost anything. It's very detached except when she's talking about how she drew her eyeliner and her cats. In fact, her most passionate and bizarre chapter is all about her cats and to what lengths she goes to in order to take care of them. We get more info on the cats than on her infertility or feelings about it.

I did enjoy the parts about the early days of modern modeling, but overall it's just ok. I think the rating system is jacked for making three stars "it's ok" and one star "i hated it" so i'm giving it two stars because it's not that great and it left me with a little sour taste in my mouth. If she really didn't want her personal life in the book, then she should have and could have taken it out and focused on the professional side and made it a stronger book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'd recommend anyone buying "Grace", by Grace Coddington to first watch the documentary, "The September Issue". If you haven't seen it in the theater or rented it, you can view it for pay on Amazon. The movie is about the process of putting together the much storied September issue of "Vogue". It features editor Anna Wintour and is seconded by Grace Coddington - the fashion editor of the magazine.

Grace Coddington, who recently turned 70, is one of the most important people in fashion today. Beginning as a model in the swinging London of the 1960's, she moved into the production side of the industry as she aged. After stints with British "Vogue" and Calvin Klein in New York City, she went to work American "Vogue" in 1988 with Anna Wintour as editor. The two have set the pace for fashion ever since; Wintour who says "decisiveness" is her best virtue in editing the magazine and Coddington whose instinctive feel for both photography and fashion gives Wintour the pictures to be "decisive" about. In her book - sort of half memoir/half autobiography - Coddington looks at her life both in her professional and private worlds.

Coddington is fairly open - as far as I can tell - about the people she worked with in fashion. She's perhaps a little "nicer" in the book about her relationship with Wintour than she was in the documentary, but since they've worked hand-in-glove since 1988, they must get along pretty well. Coddington takes the reader behind the scenes of both the designer fashion shows reported on in "Vogue", as well as the fashion shoots she creates for the magazine. She uses both photographs and sweet pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate both her private and public lives.
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