Sir Norman Parkinson

Photography Sir Norman Parkinson Styling Grace Coddington
Today is the 100th birthday of Sir Norman Parkinson, one of this countries finest fashion photographers although he passed away in 1990. Known the world over for revoultionising the British fashion photography industry by taking photos of his models outside…. it was the 1940’s. He has also worked with my all time favourite fashion stylist, and one time model, Grace Coddington. Their work together tells a fun, fashion fastasy that I’d love to be in.
Sir Norman Parkinson 21/04/1913- 15/02/1990

Photography Sir Norman Parkinson Styling Grace Coddington

Grace Coddington

If Wintour is the Pope . . . , Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year,” Time magazine said in 2009. Grace was unexpectedly launched to fame by the hit, my favourite documentary film, The September Issue. Where us mere mortals got to see the inner workings of how an issue of Vogue is put together. After this Grace was seen as the friendly down to earth face of fashion.


For more than four decades, she first worked at Vogue in 1941, Coddington—a onetime model turned master stylist—has collaborated with the best photographers and hair and makeup artists in the business to create what amount to moving pictures on the page. One of my favourite moments in The September Issue is when she says that she see’s fashion as escapism, fantasies where you can create & tell a story. Not only are her images outstanding & inspiring she has an incredible instinct for knowing the next trends.

Before Coddington became “Fashion Editor. Grace entered a competition in Vogue to become a model, she lived in a Nunnery on Isle of Anglesey, Wales where you couldn’t buy Vogue, or any fashion magazine, in the shops she had to order it in & by the time she got it, it was a couple of months out of date. After She won the Vogue competition she became one of the most-photographed faces of sixties Swinging London. She modelled minis for Mary Quant and cutting-edge hairstyles for Vidal Sassoon, who gave her a radical geometric bob that catapulted them both to fame.

There was no such thing as a stylist when Coddington got her start: The girls all carried their own wigs, makeup, and jewellery, transforming themselves to suit the job. Grace seemed to have a particular knack for this, always pulling just the right piece out of her bag. As the decade came to a close she was involved in a car accident which damaged one side of her face, so she turned that talent into a career as a fashion editor. At British Vogue, she began making the fantasy travelogues that would become her signature. She went to great lengths to get the shot. For her mentor, the photographer Norman Parkinson, she climbed a Grecian column to set off smoke bombs at the feet of her model, Apollonia van Ravenstein. For the exacting Guy Bourdin she tipped vats of cerulean-blue dye into the ocean to achieve the brilliant shade he demanded. Once, she hatched a scheme with the seventies übermodel Jerry Hall to smuggle exposed rolls of film from a Norman Parkinson shoot out of the USSR in Hall’s makeup bag. All “in pursuit of fashion glory,” Coddington wrote in the 2002 chronicle of her work, Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue.

Since 1988, she has been Vogue’s creative leader, encouraging the team to push beyond the frame. “I like to give the photographer a starting point and then let him or her go as far as possible,” she told the magazine in 1993. Wrote Wintour, in the preface to Grace: “She inspires and challenges them like no one else.”

As you can tell I love Grace & her work, the way she tells a story in each shoot, the goose bumps I get from looking at the images she has created & how from looking at her work she inspires me to aim for the same level. To never give up.

Part 4 Designer Inspiration

You might have noticed that there was one designer missing this season at London Fashion week- Peter Jensen. He took his inspiration a women, that’s all he said to new heights, he didn’t do a catwalk show I don’t really see the muse to be a woman that would be doing that kind of thing. The new collection is titled Barbara, my mums name, and will be along the same sort of lines as the A/W 2012 collection Titled Thelma.
Zoe Jordan
A women after my own heart, Zoe Jordan has taken inspiration from a mixture of multicultural influences, from travel including natural elements of Africa and American Varsity sportswear, for her spring/summer 2013 collection. See travel really does broaden the mind.
One of my most favourite film is the “September Issue” staring Grace Coddington- Stylist extraordinaire and of course Anna Wintor. Grace said in one scene that she was told when she was just starting out by a photographer ” Always keep your eyes open” everywhere you go keep your eyes open everywhere you go. It sounds so simple but I have been trying to do that where every I go since I have seen the film & you really can find inspiration in all places, from the sky, washing up, the stranger next to you who knows.
Where is the strangest place you have found inspiration?