Grace Coddington is synonymous with red hair. This has been true ever since the early ‘90s, when the legendary Vogue stylist first dyed her lengths a blazing shade of crimson, but was made all the more so upon the release of the 2009 documentary The September Issue, which catapulted her to a new kind of recognizable-on-the-street fame. For years, many a New Yorker has relished the sight of Coddington with that unmistakable shock of russet hair trailing behind her on the West Side of the city.
A few weeks ago, in search of a distraction while at home, I reached for my bright orange copy of Coddington’s beautiful memoir to provide some much-needed escapism. And that it did, ranging from her musings on her childhood spent in Trearddur Bay, a small town on Holy Island in Wales, to her casual tales of becoming a model on the Swinging Sixties scene in London, to starting her styling career at British Vogue before moving across the pond to American Vogue. Towards the end of the book, Coddington gets candid about her red hair, insisting that she’d be unrecognizable without it, so it’s worth the high-maintenance upkeep. As a bottle blonde nursing grown-in dark roots in the time of social distancing, I could relate—and it got me thinking about how Coddington is faring without her longtime colorist Louis Licari. I wondered, was she trying at-home color or contemplating going gray?
Graciously, she made herself available for answers, taking Vogue through her quiet life in quarantine, colorful hair history, and how she’s adjusting to life without hair salons for the foreseeable future.
To start, where are you quarantining, and what has life been like during this surreal time?
My partner Didier and I have had this house in Wainscott for 30 years. Like so many people, we rushed out of the city. There’s so much more space [here], and everything is slower and quieter and so on. To be cramped up in an apartment in the city, we’d be killing each other. [Laughs] We’re very lucky, and we’ve had this house for so long. It’s really a second home—and jam-packed with stuff, lots of personal things. We’ve been hanging out here and it’s a bit like, ‘Oh, this is what it’s like if you’re retired or something.’