16 May 2016

Grace Coddington: Having An Eye

Grace Coddington, Having The Eye, vickiarcher.com

“Hair really is so important—I’ve always thought it was the most important part of a photograph. Makes it or breaks it.”

Grace Coddington is a woman who could be described as having an eye.

What do people mean when they say, “she has an eye”?

I take the expression to mean intrinsic style, a natural gift or a way of seeing things and putting them together. “Having an eye” and self-confidence would appear to go hand-in-hand. Some are lucky enough to have an eye and others need practise. I believe we can learn to have an eye;  it can be hit and miss and “having an eye” takes effort.

Grace Coddington has had an eye forever and her styling is so much more than a showcase for fashion. Her way of collating pieces and creating shoots is far greater than models, a location and pretty clothes. Her “eye” enables her to tell a bigger story, to transcend fashion and rise to another level; Grace Coddington enables her readers to dream about much more than the images facing them from the glossy pages.

“I wouldn’t call myself a stylist. I’m working on campaigns, but it’s more than just styling. Rather than just putting clothes on the girls, I’m focusing on the overall direction of the campaign. When people think about my style, I think they see that I put a narrative into the story. Because I like to put things in a place—a dress needs a situation. Everything is lifestyle, but an enhanced lifestyle at the same time. It’s always a romantic vision of life.”

When someone is considered as “having an eye” I believe it means we have confidence in their taste. Taste is a very small word for a very large brief. “Having an eye” can be restricted to one discipline or some talented people seem to have the eye for everything. They intuitively have a sense of style which colours their lives and it’s not confined to any one place.

How can we develop our eye? How can we train ourselves to see ‘between the lines’?

Studying those we consider experts and analysing how they “see”.

Looking at style through another’s eyes, with an open mind, can enrich our frameworks and complement our way of seeing the world. We may not like everything we see but reaching further helps us firm up our own judgements.

Self-confidence helps.

Refining our likes and dislikes takes practise. Getting it down pat is a huge amount of trial and error and can involve costly mistakes when fashion and interiors are involved. Once your “eye” is in those mistakes become fewer and further in-between.

Knowing when the “eye” is in and when it is on a break.

Even those who have an eye, have off days. The smart people leave the decision making alone on those days.

The “eye” can desert us. It is there, sometimes it just won’t play.

Patience is a virtue.

“Having an eye” is a lifetime of work even for those fortunate enough to be born with such precision.

Grace Coddington, I love your “eye” and am looking forward to your new ventures for they will be sure to enchant. xv

“Having The Eye”: The White Shirt

eileen fisher mandarin collar  ||  equipment silk  ||  elizabeth and james  ||  alexa chung tuxedo front ||  piazza sempione

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In This Post:



Anita Rivera

I think that “eye” is having a MIND that can see what isn’t there….those possibilities that are invisible to the naked eye.


So many possibilities are out there and that is what makes a person’s vision or “eye” so unique… Training the mind to see is a great talent… :)

Mimi Gregor

I must say, when I clicked on your website, and saw Grace Coddington with her masses of — what to me is frizzy hair — I did a bit of a recoil. Too wild by half for my taste. I’d be reaching for the Frizz-Ease. Though I guess if you have frizzy hair, it is far healthier to “work it” rather than try to subdue it, as I do.


I am a subdu-er too, Mimi… but it’s her look, the wild and the flaming and I admire her for that.. :)


Her amazing hair has always been her trademark! Wonderful photo of an amazing lady . . . looking forward lots to her next phase, as she is a fashion icon herself.


What the photo of Grace Coddington doesn’t convey all the way is her enormous charisma and confidence. She is a force in her industry, and I can only applaud her for working with what she has, frizzy or not. Having an ” eye” is a gift, but I agree, Vicki, you can refine and enhance your “eye” by keeping an open mind, studying design and the styling of others who have a great eye, and pushing your envelope on occasion!


So funny – that was my hair exactly – frizz and all – all through high school. It was not by choice, however. At 13, I went to the corner drug store, bought a shade called “moonlight gold” (I will never forget that name) and I came out looking like bozo the clown. As a punishment, I was not allowed to recolour my hair. It was just awful. I had to wait until it grew out and then cut it all off ( that was finally in grade 12 ). Fast forward in my journey and I’d like to think I have an “eye” these days. I still am spontaneous with wardrobe and hair, but the beauty now is that if I “mess up” I have the luxury and sense to change it right away.

Taste of France

She was so fascinating in the “September Issue,” the movie about making Vogue’s biggest issue yet. The way she expressed her opinions, the way she took it as a blow when some of her photos were cut. You saw her artistic sensibilities and the logic behind them.


to “have an eye” you have a feeling for special thing. Perhaps you see things
what many don’t see.

david terry

Dear Vicki and readers,

What an evocative posting. That said (and, like everyone else, I’m a great admirer/fan of Grace Coddington’s…particularly of her terse, wry interviews)?…..it’s a bit ironic…..am I the only person who recalls that the one absolutely quantifiable aspect of Grace Coddington’s eye (literally speaking) is that she had the eyelid mostly sheared off in a car accident (thereby ending her career as a young model)?

As for the “eye” in general…..oh, some folks definitely do have “it”. Bruce Chatwin (who eventually became famous as a travel writer) became notorious/famous, when he was only 25 or so, and hadn’t ever formally studied art or antiquities) at Sotheby’s…….where he demonstrated time and time again that he could walk through a doorway, look at something from across the room, and immediately declare “That’s a fake”. Sotheby’s (where he began work as a porter before RAPIDLY ascending through the ranks) is chock-a-block with seasoned “professional” appraisers…..but Chatwin could (and rather delightedly did) overturn their opinions and assessments with a single look. In short, he was famous for his “eye” and rather dreaded by many folks in the business because of it.

Also?…I just finished reading a non-fiction book titled “Objects of Desire”. It’s a very interesting book about the antiques market….what makes something “Valuable” or “beautiful”, and what makes prices soar and/or then collapse….and the entire books is shot through with characters (three in particular) who were famed (or, as with Chatwin, loathed and feared….depending on whether one was buying or selling) for having “The Eye”?

I’m reminded of that powerful Hollywood agent (his first big “discovery” was Rock Hudson) who had “the eye”….he didn’t at ALL dress, talk, or walk like a Hollywood power-broker, but he WAS, everyone had to admit, one. My Favorite story: he took the then-unknown Ava Gardener’s screen auditions (whatever you call those things) into Jack Warner (or one of those top four or so studio bosses/owners). Jack watched Gardner’s audition and flatly said “She’s no good. The broad can’t act”. The agent cooly looked at him, told him to reconsider the decision, and announced “I didn’t say she was going to be a great actress…..I SAID she was going to be a really BIG Movie Star!”. the agent with “the eye” was, of course, quite right.

Thanks again, Vicki, for the obviously (given the length of this response) evocative posting,
david terry


Thank you for this David,
After I hit publish on my entry I thought of so much more I wanted to say… and felt I didn’t convey how talented GC is… so I am happy to read your words and add to our conversation.. :)

david terry

Oh, Vicki….Grace Coddington is (at least I think so) extremely funny. I recall reading a couple of interviews with her after “The September Issue” came out. In each case, I got the impression that the interviewer actually knew next-to-nothing about Coddington, beyond what he/she’d seen in the movie, or googled ten minutes before arriving for the interview…….and my impression was that Coddington, who was invariably polite and responsive, was inwardly rolling her eyes and thinking “Good Lord….do you think I’m going to tell YOU everything about myself, just because you’ve seen a movie and suddenly learned that I exist????”. She was very nice (if not necessarily forthcoming/confessional) about the whole business. My overall impression is that she really couldn’t care one way or the other about being “Famous”; she’s interested in her actual work.

All of which is to say/admit that I’m rather obviously among the 90,000 or so folks who have a crush on Grace Coddington.


David Terry


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