Creative Director of American Vogue, Grace Coddington, “suddenly” became famous after making an indelible impression in the 2009 documentary The September Issue. But for many years before that she had been an inspiration to those behind the fashion scenes. In Grace, A Memoir, Grace tells her own story, sharing both her personal and professional life with the reader. From her childhood in Anglesey, her early career as a model, the car accident that nearly ended it all, her trajectory from London in the Swinging Sixties to the years working at British Vogue, crossing the pond to work with Calvin Klein and then joining American Vogue in 1988. She talks about her two marriages and thirty-year romance with renowned hair stylist Didier Malige, the death of her sister and her relationship with Anna Wintour. Along the way she shares her views on everything from plastic surgery, cats, photography in the digital era and the nature of beauty.
Like Grace, many models continue to work in the fashion industry or related creative fields after they quit or cut back on modelling. Think Lauren Hutton, Isabella Rossellini, Andie MacDowell, Elle MacPherson and Helena Christensen to name just a few. Here are two other (former) models whose careers I’ve been following with particular interest:
Iman — because my friends and I used to pore over her arty high-fashion images during class breaks. In retrospect, I believe she was our introduction to the international world of fashion and style.
Somalian-born Iman was perhaps one of the most well-known supermodels of the 1970s-1980s. She landed her first modelling job for Vogue in 1976, and became the muse for acclaimed designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein and Issey Miyake. After almost two decades of modelling, this statuesque beauty started her own cosmetics firm in 1994, focussing on difficult-to-find shades for all women with skin of colour. She has also co-hosted The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi and has created the “Global Chic Collection”, a line of jewellery, handbags and accessories that is sold exclusively via the Home Shopping Network.
Sophie Dahl — because we share a passion for writing and cooking.
The granddaughter of British writer Roald Dahl began her career as a (plus-size) model, and caused quite a stir when she was photographed nude for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium billboard campaign. Sophie moved on to acting, both in the theatre and on the big screen, and in 2003 she returned to her first love: writing. She has published a novella, a novel, numerous articles for international magazines and has chronicled her misadventures with food in “Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights”. Following this successful cookery book, she wrote and presented a very popular BBC cooking series, and starred in a documentary in which she explores the life and times of her food heroine Mrs Beeton.
Do you like to keep up with what models are doing after they have left the fashion limelight? Is there anyone in particular whose career you have been following closely over the years? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.