Until three years ago, Grace Coddington may have been the most famous editor the average magazine junkie never heard of. But that was before the 2009 release of The September Issue, R.J. Cutler's documentary about Vogue and its legendary editor in chief, Anna Wintour. Though Cutler trained his spotlight on the London-born Anna (to the cognoscenti, Anna is as recognizable a name as Madonna), the Welsh-born Coddington delightfully stole the show. As well she might: As Vogue's creative director, she's been with Anna (at both the British and American editions) for more than two decades; she has a brilliant eye for editorial invention; and she's the bohemian big-haired yang to her boss' impeccably tailored bangs-and-bob yin.
In bemused recognition of her own rise to mono-moniker status, Coddington, now 71, calls her divine dry martini of a memoir Grace. Writing with Michael Roberts, she proves to be just as lively a presence in print as she is in motion, applying her dramatic sense of fashion-layout storytelling to a chatty book she stuffs with smashing photos and her own illustrations. She has a lot of primo tales to tell, beginning with her modeling days in swinging-'60s London, where she met everyone groovy, zipped off to Paris for photo shoots, and fell into various glam romances (one beau turned out to be two-timing her with Catherine Deneuve's sister).
Coddington's narrative manner is forthright, whether she's musing about working with celebs or about her late sister's drug addiction. Best of all, she enhances her September Issue cred with a tumble of inside-dope observations, assessing her boss with just the kind of no-bull insight a style hound craves. Small wonder that in Vogue-speak, ''People Are Talking About'' Grace Coddington. A-