Fashion editor Grace Coddington was my reluctant model when the model that Vogue had booked got lost cycling along the river Seine trying to find the studio. We were shooting the Paris Collections (1970) and the pressure was on. After a lengthy wait for the lost model and some considerable warm hearted and strongly worded encouragement from me (which might have included a few expletives), she kindly donned this fabulous André Courrèges outfit and got in front of the camera .
At that time we had to shoot the collections through the night in Paris because the collections were shown throughout the day and we could only have the clothes at night. It was extremely hard work and how Grace managed to look so radiant in this image is a tribute to her incredible spirit and legendary determination.
Grace and I are both the star sign Aries and we had a very similar work ethic and with the help of vast amounts of coffee, cigarettes and champagne we managed to work through the night for over a week. It was so intense and inspiring that you hardly noticed the stress of it . I absolutely loved working with her and I am not at all surprised that she has become such a fashion icon and in my view she is the star of the film, The September Issue.
She was and is a genuine force to reckoned with, with a hawkish eye for detail and impeccable taste and was and is a great inspiration to me. I’d never been a photographic assistant before I was asked by Grace and Barney Wan (Vogue Art Director) to come and work for them so I had to learn as I went along. To watch Grace work you realised how incredible she was at styling, even down to tying the models shoe laces, no detail escaped her and I learnt a great deal from her.
As it happens I feel very fortunate that this happy accident has become an iconic image of Grace. I was also delighted that Grace featured some of the work that we did together in her incredible book Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion At Vogue available on Phaidon Publishing here.
- Clive Arrowsmith is still shooting stunning images, staging exhibitions and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here