I was born in 1990 and I grew up watching old movies and listening to CDs that my father used to give me from his gigantic collection. The first time I listened to popular music (Britney Spears – Oops I did it again), I was 11 and I was clearly not impressed. There was a lack of genuine artistic value that I noticed even at such a young age. I’m not going to say that I would turn the radio off if Backstreet Boys would come on – I still don’t turn it off now and proceed to dance like a possessed child on E – but I don’t ever pretend that it is music in its artistic sense.
Let’s now talk about movies for a second. I remember watching Sound of Music for the first time, as well as Pretty Face, Pillow Talk and pretty much every old movie I have ever watched. I remember who I watched it with, where and how it made me feel. I also found that some actors could make everything better, and I felt like their passion and aim for perfection was something that wasn’t the norm anymore. I still wonder to this day how ‘Bridesmaids’ is consider one of the funniest movies of our generation. That does not paint our generation in a good light.
All this is to say that I always have and still value the ways of the past. There used to be a romanticism to art that is starting to fade away. This nostalgia for the past helps us learn, it makes us respect the intricate and complicated way things were done. It helps us understand and see that we are all blessed with so much knowledge and resources, but it also reminds us that we are a spoilt generation that doesn’t have to work as hard as the generations before us.
Back then we had Monnet, now we have “The Dick Pics” photographer.
Back then we had The Beatles, now we have One Direction.
Back then we had Richard Avedon, now we have Terry Richardson.
So we can all agree that things are not in the best shape ever. And now, Grace Coddington has stepped down as creative director of Vogue. She has built the pages of Vogue US for two decades, and has become a legend in her own time. She will now take the role of Creative Director at Large, which will give her a more flexible schedule.
An article in WGSN pointed out, that it could very well be a good thing that she has stepped down to give the chance to a younger, more tech-savvy creative to keep up with the happenings of today. I fully understand this point of view, but Vogue US has forever had a reputation of creating beautifully curated, romantic and fantasy-like editorials. They inspire the modern reader, and takes them out of their everyday life. It shows them a world that they are not part of, and that is a good thing. It is the reason why most people buy fashion magazines: to escape, not to look at clothing that they might never be able to afford anyway.
After Raf Simmons and Alber Elbaz speaking out after they left – or were removed from – their posts, I think Coddington’s move is a lot more symbolic than it could ever have been. Let’s not forget Donna Karan leaving her eponymous company, Ralph Lauren stepping down as CEO to become chairman, and Harold Koda, curator in chief of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, passing the torch to Andrew Bolton. And now Grace Coddington, the 74-year-old creative director of American Vogue, the yin to the editor Anna Wintour’s yang, and an accidental celebrity since the 2009 documentary “The September Issue,” is dialing down her role at the magazine. So what is going on?
The first guess would be that the champions of our times are just becoming older and they just need a break. But does that really happen when one has built an empire from the ground up, when one has brought up their baby to become giants? How do you relinquish your throne?
The other guess could be that the fashion industry is becoming too fast, the schedules are becoming too hard to keep up with and creativity is now stuck within a corporate box that only lives to make money, and not elevate or curate one’s thoughts, ideas or creative abilities. Everything has to be made quickly and left behind as we move on to the next thing.
Grace Coddington is legendary. She has left her imprint on inanimate pages and brought them to life. Her idiosyncratic hairstyle and lavish spreads have inspired hope within anyone interested in fashion and will continue to do so for years to come.
Remember to learn from the extensive heritage she has left for us to drool over and hope that she will continue to blow our minds for the next decade.