我看了The September Issue.你可以說是Vogue的記錄片,但正確的來說,整片也在拍Anna吧!但看完這片,我最愛的當然不是那個ice-woman,Anna啦!而是Vogue的CREATIVE DIRECTOR,Grace Coddington.她STYLING的專業,對工作的熱誠,忠於自己的表現.愛時裝的人,不會不愛上她的.有一點我覺得驚訝是,我一直也不知道她年輕時是多麼的美,是一位模特兒.在偶然的機會下,她成為了vogue young model的winner.之後她就成了模特兒,與大攝影師合作,他們叫grace在車上時不要睡,要不斷看風景,因為生活令我們找到靈感.但好不幸,一次交通意外令她終止了自己的模特兒事業.但有能力的人,不愁沒事做.英國的vogue好快找上了她,成為了editor.今日,她與anna在us vogue共事了許多年了,原來她們第一天上班,是同一日的.在電影中,我看到她拍了很多美麗的大片,真的好美!但anna竟否決了許多.她看著自己被掉棄的心血,眼角是有點泛紅的.她說來vogue工作的人,有很多,來的來,去的去,要在vogue屹立,就要有面對被否決的能力.因為被否定的次數是多不勝數的.你會發現她拍的大片和她的感覺好像.你會見到大大的紅髮,白白的皮膚.也有不少時裝人用她的頭髮,愛貓來做特點,拍出以她做靈感的大片.
THE LEGENDARY CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF AMERICAN VOGUE DID NOT CO-OPERATE IN THE MAKING OF ‘THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE’,
A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE MOST POWERFUL MAGAZINE IN FASHION.
SO WHY IS SHE THE FILM’S SURPRISE STAR?
Grace Coddington has been a fashion stylist for over four decades, making her one of the most experienced in the industry, and is the creative director of American Vogue, making her one of the most powerful. Nevertheless, she rarely gives interviews and dislikes media attention: ‘I just want to get on with my job,’ she says. So when documentary-maker RJ Cutler and his film crew arrived at Vogue’s New York headquarters to trail the magazine’s creative team for an entire nine months, she refused to take part. But six months in, she was persuaded to take part by Anna Wintour, American Vogue’s editor in chief who first brought her to the magazine 21 years ago. It is the fascinating and frequently confrontational relationship between the two women that forms the central narrative of the resulting documentary, The September Issue,
which is released this September.
COS: Why did you not want to take part in filming for The September Issue?
GC: Well, I really don’t like publicity and I never seek it. Anna’s always doing interviews: there’s always a camera in the building somewhere, and I’m always avoiding it. So the idea that a camera crew were coming into Vogue for nine months horrified me. For the first six months I closed my door and got on with my job within my office. Which was kind of awkward, because a lot of the time my job involves going to the art department, going to Anna. People react differently when there’s a camera there; some things you can’t say. So I refused to speak to Anna unless they were kept out of her office.
What made you change your mind?
When we started shooting the stories that were going to run in the September issue of Vogue, Anna basically put a gun to my head and said, ‘They’re coming along with you.’ (Laughs) And I said, ‘Well, you will hear things you don’t want to hear. I will do things that perhaps you don’t like. That’s how I work, and I’m not gonna change. And I swear like a trooper too! On your head be it.’ It was not something I agreed with, but I had to do it because she pays my wages. The first shoot was with [Steven] Meisel and he doesn’t allow camera crews, so I was like, phew! But on every other shoot we did, no one had the balls to say no to the crew.
You look like you got on with the film crew though. You even had one of them modelling in a shoot!
Well, having seen them for six months… they’re extremely nice people. They’re funny and real, and have done very serious political documentaries, not Survivor-type reality TV. So I was like, OK, if you’re gonna come along with me, you’d better be friends. You’d better come out for a drink with me afterwards and do what I do with anyone else I’d work with.
Considering you didn’t get involved till the end I was surprised how much screen time you got?
Well, me too! Ninety per cent of what they filmed was without me, but it’s amazing what you can do in the editing. On the rare occasions when I have been interviewed I always get cut out of the movie. But this film ended up being about my relationship with Anna, largely.
And the final line of the film is Anna’s verdict on you, calling you a genius.
I was amazed she said that on film! I’m incredibly flattered and I really do respect her enormously. That’s the reason I’ve worked with her such a long time. I mean, I argue with her, as you’ve seen! But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect her.
How did you feel about the film when you saw it?
I think they did a really great job; I like it and it really made me laugh. But in the way it’s edited they focused on one small narrative. In film terms it makes a story, but there are an awful lot of people who work at Vogue besides myself and Anna [who you don’t see], and Anna does an awful lot of things besides just talking about shoes. So I think maybe she was a little disappointed that they didn’t show other aspects of what she does and what Vogue does.
Were you surprised someone was going to such lengths to make a documentary about Vogue? Yes I was! Although in the world of magazines I think Vogue is quite high-ranking. So I guess if you’re going to make a documentary about a magazine, Vogue’s as good as any.
As high-end fashion has enjoyed a broader audience in recent years, have you noticed a growing public curiosity about what goes on at Vogue?
Withering) There’s a growing curiosity about how many times people go to the bathroom. Honestly… there’s an incredible curiosity about the inside of everything. Everyone wants to see what the inside of actresses’ houses looks like, so what do they do? They bring in some stylist to jazz up the apartment, and then they photograph them in there which is somewhat unreal. But I think what you see in The September Issue is nitty-gritty real. I think it’s interesting that it comes out around the same time as the Valentino movie [Valentino: The Last Emperor], where everything is incredibly, unreally beautiful. In recent years we’ve had several comprehensive behind-the-scenes fashion films – Loïc Prigent’s documentaries on Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Marc Jacobs at Vuitton, for example… It’s very different from the days when fashion was created always behind closed doors and the final spectacle was all that mattered. Well there are so many fashion films like, dare I say it, The Devil Wears Prada – which honestly people should stop comparing to this one, because it bears no resemblance; one’s fiction, the other’s reality. I think [the makers of The September Issue] have depicted fashion in a good way and made the people in it look somewhat real and serious as opposed to stupid airheads. That was another reason why I was worried about it, because every single movie made about fashion makes fashion look stupid. Prêt-à-Porter made fashion look completely ridiculous. Which it is not. It’s something that makes people feel good, or should. I’ve been doing it all my life so I get upset when I see those really stupid, stupid movies. I thought the Marc Jacobs documentary was very good and very funny, though.
These days stylists wield as much power in the fashion industry as designers, but back when you were working on British Vogue in the Sixties and Seventies, stylists didn’t even get credited. Why do you think stylists are so much in the spotlight now?
It’s this whole era of celebrity. Everybody is a celebrity. So all the backstage people now have come front of stage. And then there’s the gullible public, who just want a little bit of whatever about anyone. Their appetite is insatiable. It’s really extraordinary. They made a documentary about Annie Leibovitz a few years ago and every time I went to shoot with her there’d be a camera in my face! I was so furious, and I had so many arguments where I said, please don’t do this or I’m just not gonna work with you any more – I can’t deal with trying to behave like a normal person on camera! Annie’s not an easy person to work with, so you are so stressed, and to have a camera record all this on top was impossible. But it’s what happens now. Everything is recorded. Every time you go in the studio these days there’s a film crew recording what’s called ‘the B-roll’. Certainly if you shoot covers – which thank God I almost never do, because they’re all of celebrities and I hate celebrities – you get [that celebrity’s] B-roll crew that comes along too. You’re trying to find the picture and there’s a camera in your face. For the photographer it’s very inhibiting. But that’s how it is these days, everybody wants to see everything. Before every movie you see behind the scenes of the movie. And you’re not seeing reality, you’re seeing a faked reality. It’s ridiculous. Get back to reality. Everybody go home and we can have a few less magazines and less of all this trash. You’re well known for your vociferous dislike of celebrity.
Do you prefer working with models because they do a specific job – playing a role in a fantasy that you create?
Well, celebrities certainly don’t make that job any easier. Normally they dictate the dates, the hair, the make-up, the photographer, what they will or won’t do. That’s a little inhibiting. And they’re not the same shape as a model: often they’re much shorter, so you got to get something made specially and usually you don’t have the time.
Also you’re restricted by their public persona. You’re not creating a character.
Exactly. They want to look like themselves. There’s no point shooting a celebrity and making her look like somebody else. Although actually that’s what actors are supposed to do – they play somebody else. That’s if they’re any good as an actor. Most of the ones that go on the cover are the ones that only play themselves and promote themselves and that’s why everybody wants to know about them, and why they’re on the cover. But I’m not the poor ****er who has to deal with it. I’m lucky, I deal mostly with models and that’s the way I’d like it to remain for the next however long I’m working.
In the film you complain about the way shooting fashion stories has changed over the years. What change do you dislike most?
What I don’t like is shooting on digital. With digital cameras comes a whole new concept, a whole new group of people and a whole new dynamic. Everybody thought it would be much cheaper and quicker and more efficient, but in fact what happens is that it entails a huge crew. And with that huge crew you lose a bit of personality. I don’t think the process is perfected yet. And there’s no chance of accidents. And everybody’s working on retouching before they’ve even taken the picture.
On digital shoots photographers often pay more attention to the image on the computer monitor than to the model.
Yes, it totally skews it. They’re saying, oh I’ll take that head and put it on that body and so on. They’re not just focused on taking the picture. They’re already editing. And they’re not editing alone ’cause everybody can see it and they’ve all got their own opinion. And I’m guilty too! It’s funny, I was photographed the other day for the first time by someone using a digital camera, and it was so odd to have three or four people jumping up and down going, move to the left! No, move to the right! And the photographer said nothing except, ‘Oh that’s nice.’ When I was a model way, way back, it was very different. The photographer would lock everybody out of the room, including the [fashion] editor, and just get on and take the picture, which was his picture 100 per cent. But now a picture is done by a team. I don’t know if it makes it worse. It’s supposed to make it better! (Laughs) It makes it different is all I can say. In my experience. Which has been some years. And now when someone works in non-digital I’m totally confused. ‘Er, er, er… I can’t see a picture!’ There’s not many. Bruce Weber’s about the only one I know. The role of the stylist has certainly become elevated in the years since you worked uncredited at British Vogue. Totally elevated. It’s become ridiculous.
Ridiculous? Do you think?
Oh, come on. The photographer should be the star. Not the [fashion] editor. We bring the clothes and we hope like hell it’ll look pretty! We’re not there to discuss whether the arm should be up, down or sideways. We are now but really… I wish the photographer could just get on and take the picture and not be distracted by all of us waving our arms and having an opinion.
Do you think the expectations of the stylist’s role has changed?
I think more responsibility is laid on our shoulders, yeah. Because if the pictures are no good it’s 50 per cent your fault. Which it didn’t use to be. Before it was, ‘Oh my god, he’s a bad photographer.’ Now it’s, ‘What the hell did you think you were doing?’
You mentioned in the film that your job gets harder and harder. But you must still love it to keep doing it.
Aah… (Pause) Well I need to pay the bills. (Laughs) No, I do. It still interests me. It’s never dull. That’s why I like it. I don’t think I could work in a bank; I might just get bored. Fashion keeps evolving, and the people change all the time, and that’s what I think is remarkable and great. ‘The September Issue’ is out September 11