After countless years spent dreaming of working in the fashion industry, followed by five years living the dream, I can confirm that it is both the best and worst of places. A place of, for me at least, magic. The people, the places, the clothes, the glamour – and then there are the worst bits – the people, the places, the clothes, the glamour…The fashion world is a vicious cycle – that catch 22 situation you love, loathe, feel eternally trapped in and also addicted too in equal measure, all at the same time.
From experience, you generally get two types of people. Firstly, there are the struggling artist types who distance themselves from the drama for the love of the industry (and their desire to retain some small level of self-respect) and slowly become a shadow of their former selves, hidden somewhere under a mountain of late nights, early call times, re-runs, re-runs of re-runs, lack of sleep and the tears of a thousand Prada handbags.
And then there’s the fashion elite; those that swan around disapprovingly, dividing their time between shows, sample sales, launches and lunches. Those with a hardened exterior who battle forwards to achieve fashion credentials, to have their opinion sought after, and furthermore, appreciated. I think we’d all like to think we could handle this industry with some of our dignity intact, and from the outside that seems all too easy, but once inside the fashion bubble it becomes incredibly hard to uphold.
But the industry isn’t going to change, and in part that’s why it’s so successful. It’s unforgiving, ruthless and fast paced, rarely takes any prisoners and is globally worth about three trillion dollars. The industry can kind of do whatever it wants, and it knows it. As an industry that makes or breaks people, I swing back round to the woman I have so much admiration for – what is most remarkable about Grace is that she appears to be both the very antithesis and the embodiment of everything fashion stands for.
From her time spent in front of the lens as a teenager to decades behind it as fashion and then creative director of American Vogue, Grace has literally lived and breathed a life in the industry. Photographing the best, with the best, from Tim walker to Mario Testino and side kick to the infamous ice queen of fashion, Anna Wintour, her career has been all encompassing. Front row at fashion week, all the pomp and ceremony fashion has to offer. Obsessed by clothes and the stories behind them, she has created some of the most magical fashion stories ever printed, and is probably one of the most recognised faces of fashion in the world. Yet, she still manages to retain that humility and a genuine respect for both the products and people she works with. For me, she is the perfect example of how to achieve the creative balance between being passionate and excelling in what you love and do, but not losing your head in the process!
I guess Grace is my creative hero. I think everyone secretly has one – that one person they’ve come across on their journey who they just admire. It’s not always a mega-super-fashion babe like Grace, instead it might be a work colleague or an artist you come across while Instagram hopping. Big or small, it’s just someone who once you learn a bit about, they act as a personal inspiration to you, helping you to push yourself that little bit further.
The creative world is an amazing place, but it can sometimes be a lonely, tough place that requires you to dig deep and find the strength to battle on through to the other side of the pitch, shoot or design that is causing you so much pain at the time. Everyone is different, but for me, when I am in need of that little bit of a pick-me-up, I turn to Miss Coddington. An unfaltering creative who made fashion an art and through decades of Vogue issues has taught us that we as creatives are really lucky to do what we do and that we should occasionally remind ourselves to embrace our mistakes, she reminds us that perfection isn’t always the most creative way to do things and most importantly, not to lose your mind in the process.