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Grace Coddington and André Leon Talley: The Need (?) for Speed

Waiting for André Leon Talley in my rainboots, I tweeted last week, sitting at Barnes & Noble where the VOGUE editor-at-large was scheduled to appear with Creative Director Grace Coddington.

André Leon Talley, photo by Heather R. Gregg

Incidentally, en route to the bookstore from Condé Nast, the two creatives were discussing Twitter and Facebook’s ubiquity. Upon arrival, they shared some of their thoughts on the fast flow of media and fashion during a discussion with The September Issue director RJ Cutler.

“I have a Facebook and a Twitter, I’m told,” said the fiery-haired Ms. Coddington. I got out my phone to tweet that but then stopped, realizing I wanted to listen to what she would say next.

Grace Coddington, photo by Heather R. Gregg

“It doesn’t help me in fashion very much. I don’t work that way, and I’m a little old to start working that way now,” said Coddington. “If you do something fast, which is what all those things make you do, because you’re spending your whole time reading and then it’s out of date in ten minutes or something, I don’t think that’s good for fashion. We’re trying to speed up all those poor designers so that they have fifteen collections a year and it’s stupid. I mean, how many dresses can you wear? And it makes them do it not so well, or they have a breakdown, or as just very very sadly happened, Alexander McQueen killed himself. And that’s part of that hysteria that breaks my heart. It breaks my heart.”

Alexander McQueen gown, image from The Metropolitan Museum

At the end of the discussion, the final audience member allowed a question promised she would try to be fast, and then came out with this, seemingly in a single breath:

“You mentioned that you don’t interact much with the Internet and I can understand and that, and I agree with what you said, Grace, about the quality does suffer, with the democratization—but at the same time I think that a lot of people are here and know about the movie through those same channels and I am someone from the generation that does interact with that, but I choose not to. I don’t Tweet; I don’t have a Facebook page and that’s very rare. I may be one of the last people. So, what I would ask you is, do you think it’s something of a fair trade-off, maybe something’s lost but something’s gained: more people know about your industry and I know that you all came to it kind of aspirationally, but it seems that’s not enough for people anymore and they want like that interaction and a lot of designers I noticed are just doing shows online now as opposed to just doing the large runway productions, and that may be a financial decision but at the same time it gives people greater access. Okay, so do you think that there is any value in that, and that it is a fair trade-off?”

“Yeah, I think it’s a fair trade-off.” Grace replied. “I have to say, after that very long question, yeah, that’s maybe good that you’re not twittering or something.”

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