5 Minutes With...Grace Coddington
You have known Nicolas Ghesquière for a long time: how did you meet and become friends?
Grace Coddington (GC) The first time I met him was in 2000 on a shoot for American Vogue with Steven Meisel—we were shooting a bunch of young designers and somehow, he really stood out. Then, when I did the Alice in Wonderland-themed shoot with Annie Leibovitz, i desperately wanted to include him, and he made a dress especially for it. After that shooting, we became close friends.
What do you admire about him?
GC That he's never following a trend; he's always driving fashion forward. He's a designer who bravely makes statements that he could be dashed for; he's always bold, and always convincing.
Who do you see as his Louis Vuitton woman?
GC He has a very particular woman; one who started at Balenciaga, but is really defining herself now. You can also see her in the choice of celebrities who sit in his front row; so often when you see those people all dolled up you know that they might have been paid a million dollars to sit there, but they don't look very comfortable. But his women always look special—at the Met Gala earlier this year, his little group were the ones who appeared truly elegant and original. Theirs was the party I wanted to be at.
How did this collaboration come about?
GC We'd been talking about doing something together for about three years and when I left Vogue to go freelance, we finally could. It was obvious that it was going to involve cats—but I very much wanted to involve his dog Léon, too. The collaboration is between Nicolas and I, and here we are personified through our animals, so to speak.
How many cats have you had over the years?
GC There was Brian and Stanley. Then I had Maureen and Doreen. Then Coco, Henri and Baby. Then Puff, and Bart, and now Pumpkin and Blanket. I've always liked heavy, chunky cats more than the very feline, skinny sorts with long pointed noses. I like fluffy ones. I like hair, and so I like for my cats to have a lot of hair. I used to go and hang out a lot at the cat show at Madison Square Gardens; I met a woman there with three kittens and that's where I got Pumpkin, and later I got Blanket from her, too.
The animals offered a clear inspiration for the collection—what about the house of Louis Vuitton inspired you?
GC I found their travelling exhibition of trunks particularly amazing: it's fascinating to see all of the different shapes and sizes, what they have put in them, how they have tailor made pieces for particular customers. It is an extraordinary house with extraordinary quality and an extraordinary history. I love that they do collaborations - and that they have a sense of