In case you didn’t know, Louis Vuitton artistic director for women’s collections Nicolas Ghesquière and former Vogue creative director Grace Coddington are best friends. Seriously — they’re besties. CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Alina Cho started her The Atelier with Alina Cho talk off with this point on Monday evening when she interviewed the two industry vets in front of a live audience at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“You guys are best friends outside of fashion, too,” she insisted. (Hint: They are!) But after retelling their meet-cute — on a Vogue shoot, naturally — the two had a lot more to reflect on. Most recently, the pals collaborated on a cat-themed capsule collection for Louis Vuitton which debuted at Ghesquière’s spring 2019 show for the French fashion house. As part of her freelance career, Coddington started Face To Grace, a web series where she interviews her closest friends, like Ghesquière himself, Sofia Coppola, and yes, Anna Wintour. Also of note from the chat was Ghesquière’s mention of potentially starting his own namesake label — but the French designer isn’t saying anything beyond that (for now).
“She said, ‘The dress is a bit too big for her. Could you clamp the back so that it’s slim?’,” Coddington recalled of Annie Leibovitz and her Alice and Wonderland -themed shoot in Vogue. “I had to fight her on that one. She kept pinning it and then I would run in and unpin it,” she said. “That was the whole point of the dress,” Ghesquière chimed in (he served as the brand’s creative director for 15 years, from 1997 to 2012).
She continued: “It was important that it stuck out in the back, à la Balenciaga. That’s a Balenciaga thing. And I kept arguing with [Leibovitz] saying, ‘You don’t understand about Balenciaga! This is what Balenciaga does and it’s what Nicolas has taken from the archives. It’s a very modern dress and I absolutely love it. But she kept saying it was big and baggy.” That moment, and so many others like it, are why Grace is, well, Grace. She solidified her presence in fashion at a time when clothes weren’t so ephemeral, before the knockoff and influencer booms. She’s respectful of what designers do and she adheres to their vision as tightly to her own.
Later on in the talk, Cho pressed Ghesquière for his thoughts on Hedi Slimane’s contentious Celine debut: “I obviously support the position of an artistic director in a house. And I think that what is the most important is to have a style and a point of view, and I think that’s the case of Hedi at Celine,” he said. “So, of course — it’s the most important thing, to have tradition and something that is very recognizable. I absolutely support that position.” Asked whether he was surprised by Slimane’s act, Ghesquière replied confidently: “No, I was not.”
And then there was the story about why Coddington showed up in Michael Kors pajamas to the 2015 Met Gala. She actually skipped the dinner portion of the night for a pretty normal reason: She had to get to the airport. “All of Vogue staffers wore the [floral] pajamas, so I thought, ‘Well, these are really cool pajamas. But I had a shoot that next day in the South of France so I said to Anna, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think I’m gonna make the party this year because I have to go to the airport.’ And she was like, ‘Well, just come to the drinks!’ And I said that I didn’t have anything to wear. And she said, ‘Just get them to run you up a pair of pajamas!’ And they did.” She wore it to the Met Gala, the airport, and to bed that night.
As for their legacies, Ghesquière is out to “create desire” and to continue empowering women. For Coddington, as one could expect, it’s a little more personal: “I hope my legacy is having a lot of happiness. And being able to love and enjoy fashion and photography. To me, photography and fashion are kind of the same thing; one relates to the other. I hope it reads in my pictures, so I hope people will remember me for stories and some kind of magic like that that happens between photographers, editors, models, hair people, makeup people — the whole team that build these images.”
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