Grace Coddington to Step Down as Creative Director at Vogue

Amelia Diamond | January 20, 2016

This morning, Business of Fashion reported that Grace Coddington will step down as Vogue’s Creative Director. She will assume the title of Creative Director at Large, and though she’ll continue to style “several shoots throughout the year,” Coddington will begin working on projects outside the Condé Nast publication. (According to BoF, there are currently no plans to fill the role of Creative Director.) To celebrate the next step in her career, Amelia recalls the time she interned on a shoot with the iconic stylist.

I used to be terrified of Grace Coddington. She scared me more than Anna Wintour did back when I interned at Vogue.

Granted, everyone (and everything) felt potentially life-threatening when I began there; make the wrong person mad — mess up their coffee, forget a stylist’s dress, lose an editor’s belt — and I was sure I’d be doomed out of a career in fashion. It was a semester spent on fabergé eggshells.

But a lot of that — most of that — was in my head. The women were hard working and dedicated, creative and deeply invested, sometimes stressed but never mean and whether intentional or not, they were teachers. I think that’s why Grace Coddington scared me. It’s never really the principal you’re worried about, right? It’s the teacher who can send you to the principal’s office.

Every morning we interns would roll the racks away from the editors’ desks and line them up throughout the hallways, getting a peek into the thought process of the those minds who painted Vogue’s pages with ideas. The garments on Grace’s were always confusing. I remember having no clue as to why she’d want some ratty old tank top (Balmain) or some clunky black shoes (Balenciaga) or what good some black latex corset-dress-thing (Comme des Garçons) would do for anyone. Other racks were more inviting, easier to “get,” prettier to see. But everyone said she had the vision. Critics of The September Issue said she was the star. And the assistants said her shoots were the one to score.

The last month of my internship, I scored such a spot.  The shoot would take two days, the photographer was David Sims, the models were big (Freja Beha Erichsen, Arizona Muse) and the theme was “Punk.” It was the first and only time I’d get to watch Grace Coddington work. Prior to this, our interactions largely consisted of me trying not to do anything weird as she walked by.

When you’re young and you puncture what you thought you knew about X with a safety pin purchased from Saint Mark’s Place, the world kind of opens up. Fashion — uptown and aspirational for as long as I could remember it — exploded for me during that shoot, with Grace holding the sharpest point. She created a fantasy world before the camera with those shapes and fabrics I hadn’t previously understood. She told a story with her styling, slipping models in and out of characters with an expert eye, kneeling frequently to adjust cuffs and tug at hems. If you’ve ever watched a sculptor sculpt, then this was it.

The decision to pursue a career in such a strange field was a culmination of tiny pieces and mostly happy accidents, but I’m almost certain that this shoot, “Punk’d,” in the March 2011 issue of Vogue, was the thing that taught me fashion was a whole lot more than Chanel. That clothes are as expressive as words, that an editor’s eye is no less scrupulous when it comes to the fall of a drape than a word out of place, and that Grace Coddington was not terrifying at all. To everyone who has ever lost themselves in the vision she creates, she’s a teacher. And after nearly 30 years, she’s expanding her classroom.

Photographed by Arthur Elgort for I-D Magazine 


  • Aydan

    Grace is the ultimate woman. Listening to her speak, reading her writing, seeing her creations/visions–a true artist in so many ways! You are very very lucky Amelia to see her work in action!!

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  • l:ly

    <3 Amazing Grace <3

  • Janine

    Grace Coddington. What can we say? Style, artistic, smarts, class…you name it she has it. Good luck to her in her “at-large” role.

    But…A Wintour has got to go. She’s ruined well as Allure and Lucky (as soon as I saw her name on each masthead page, I knew they were doomed). Good golly. I subscribed to Vogue for decades (!) and when I finally canceled it, not one peep as to why. Kate Moss needs to replace AW. It’s my goal in life to get that word out. 😉

    • Natty

      agreed with you on Wintour – I can’t stand the politicking anymore. I hadn’t considered her replacement though! What an interesting thing to consider…

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  • Caroline

    THIS. This article is why I love fashion. You are so lucky to have worked with Grace! I heard her speak at Teen Vogue’s Fashion University several years back, and it was one the most inspiring hours of my life.

  • Chetna Singh

    What a fantastic opportunity for you, Amelia! Can’t wait to see what she does in the days ahead.

  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    I partially wanted to work in fashion because I love Grace Coddington so much. I also partially wanted to work in fashion so that I could hear stories about legendary people like this one.

  • RingsABelle

    Grace has all the attributes of a wonderful woman to admire in fashion. Courageous in her choices and fearless when it comes to taking big risks for her stories. I can’t get enough.

    xx Belle

  • MaKenzie

    Your experience with her sounds inspiring, and I desperately hope I can one day have an experience like this as well.

  • After watching “The September Issue” I poured through all of my old Vogue’s and sure enough, Grace Coddington’s name lay at the bottom of every single one of my favorite fashion editorials. I am so excited to see her creative genius come alive outside the walls of Vogue. As a fellow artist it’s wildly inspirational to watch a woman achieving such huge heights in her career at age 74. We should all be so lucky to be doing what we love for that long! Cheers to Grace!

  • Nae

    Such a beautiful write-up. She is a fascinating woman!

  • Great story. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Apeksha

    Beautiful. I admit I didn’t know anything about her before I watched The September Issue. She was the true star of that documentary. Also I love her wry British humor, ilustrations (and cats!) on Instagram. Wish she would do more tho..

  • Such a well-written piece! So jealous that you got to work with Grace, even for just a short while. In high school I knew I wanted to work in fashion, but I wasn’t sure which area I wanted to pursue. It was watching Grace in The September Issue that made me realize that creative director is exactly what I wanted to be. Grace really inspired me, and I’ll miss her work at Vogue, but I can’t wait to see what she does next and also who takes over her position (any chances they’ll hire a girl coming out of college with little previous work experience? lol)

  • Anna Kalmbach


  • bonitachocolat

    You know I’ve been too dedicated to fashion if, when I just read the title of this article, I literally jumped in fear. Oh no. What will Vogue do without Grace?

  • After reading her memoir and watching The Editor’s Eye, I just really want to meet Grace! She seems so interesting and unexpected with her styling like Amelia said. It seems as though with her, what looks like an unorganized mess turns into a magical fantasy every time with Grace’s editorials shoots!