when i set out to write the next post for the monday muse series, my goal was to write a piece about anna wintour, editor in chief of (american) vogue. i started reading vogue when i was thirteen and the publication has been a source of inspiration (and escape) ever since. when i was young, i would spend hours tearing pages out of each issue and creating collages on my bedroom wall. thus, i couldn't think of a better monday muse than the woman responsible for each issue's creation, and my favorite teenage pastime.
to ready myself for the task of writing such a post, i purchased the behemoth septempber issue (904 pages - the largest issue in vogue's history) and watched the documentary of the same name. i was prepared for wintour's unyielding work ethic and "icy" personality (we've all seen the devil wears prada, right?). however, something new that i learned, among other things, was proof that wintour is a true visionary. for example, before any other publication, wintour decisively stopped using super models on the cover of vogue and instead began using celebrities, foreseeing the rise of celebrity culture in our society. she also created the cfda awards so that lesser known, up-and-coming designers would stand a chance of surviving in the competitive world of fashion.
something i wasn't prepared for was...
grace coddington, vogue's creative director and stylist extraordinaire. coddington is the master behind many of the most beautifully styled shoots in the publication (the escape factor i mentioned above). as wintour remarks, "grace is a genius and there's no one that can visualize a picture or understand the direction of fashion or produce a great shoot. it's just remarkable." 
coddington started in the fashion business when a family friend entered her photo in a modeling contest, and she won. she went on to experience many successful years as a model until her career was stopped short by a car accident in 1961. her face went through the passenger mirror and she suffered a lacerated eyelid. she underwent major plastic surgery and was back to work after only two years. however, upon returning, coddington realized it was time to move on from modeling and decided "styling seemed like a fun, easy job..."  and a career was born.
not only was i taken by coddington's back story, i was inspired by her charming personality and sheer passion for art and the fashion world. her goal is to meld the two worlds in any shoot she creates, and her breadth of knowledge for art history is astounding. riding in a town car through paris, coddington reflects, "i never dreamt of being a model. i never, never dreamt of being a fashion editor, but i just love the pages and pictures. in my early years as a fashion editor, i worked for norman parkinson, whose a really big photographer. he taught me to always keep your eyes open. never go to sleep in the car or anything like that…always keep watching because whatever you see, be it out the window or wherever, it can inspire you." 
in the end, this monday muse made a surprising turn. what i first thought would be a post about anna wintour unexpectedly turned into a post about two inspiring women - wintour and coddington. i found myself captivated by each woman's strength and undying conviction for their work and art. "[coddington] admits that both she and wintour are stubborn, adding, 'i know when to stop pushing her, but she doesn't know when to stop pushing me.'"  their management styles couldn't be any more different from one another and this constant battle between wintour and coddington is seen throughout the movie. coddington is unwavering in her defense for her work and to ensure that her point of view is heard. her confidence is simply inspiring. it had me thinking...
do you think having someone push you is conducive to your best work? have you ever worked for someone who was difficult, but whom you ultimately respected? have you seen the september issue?
image source, all styling by grace coddignton: carey mulligan photographed by peter lindbergh for the october 2010 issue of vogue / drew barrymore photographed by annie leibovitz for the april 2005 issue of vogue