Grace Coddington (And More) Give Words of Fashion Wisdom at Teen Vogue’s Fashion University

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Grace Coddington, never one to shy away from speaking her mind, kicked off Teen Vogue's Fashion University, a conference for 500 up-and-coming talents in the fashion industry, over the weekend.

Teen Vogue's Amy Astley described Coddginton best on stage Saturday morning at the over-stuffed Hudson Theater in New York City: In an industry constantly crowded with noise and self-promotion, “Grace stays quiet and lets her work speak for herself.”

Here's what the former model and creative director of American Vogue had to say…

On fashion and digital…Coddington admitted to being behind the curve when it came to digital. Apparently she can barely text message and doesn't have an email address. But for her, it's more of a choice. She only uses designers she feels creates well-constructed pieces, therefore she needs to be at the shows, examining the stitching and design, “I don't believe in digital… I need to see the clothes… feel them.” Seeing them on a screen just doesn't cut it.

On how she's built up her career, “It's not about the money, it's about doing something you are passionate about… if you don't enjoy it, you should stop.” She also noted that it's the person staying after 5pm who becomes successful, not the person running off to a party.

On how she chooses an assistant, “I size them up when they walk in.” She notices how they dress, but more importantly, how they put their outfit together. In case you are ever trying to impress her, you need to look effortless.

On her love of cats… “They could call it Kitty Couture,” she said of all the types of cat-inpired gifts she's received over the years. (And if you want that assistant position previously mentioned, you better love Coddington's cats.)

The morning of the second day of University was dedicated to “Fashion in the Digital Age.” See what those who work in the industry had to say:

  • Moderator Simone Oliver, Online Fashion Editor of the New York Times, asked: “How do you think social media will change in the next couple years?”

Danica Lo, Executive Editor of Style Bistro, predicted the over-consumption of social media will soon be stream-lined: “In the next couple of the years you will see a pairing down and a self-editing process… There's just so much information out there right now…I tihnk eventually it will return to facts at some point. It will be some kind of self-editing process with social media… It will become more and more refined. And I'm looking forward to that. I mean, I like it now, but it's a lot.”

Treena Lombardo, the Fashion Director of ShopBop agreed, and also noted the ethical uses of social media: “I think there needs to be some sort of practice of journalism ethics applied to social media. And I tihnk that's really what scares me about it now. … You're getting so much information from these platforms, and a lot of it isn't true. So I really think we need to find a way to put in some sort of ethics…”

  • On the topic of social commerece…

Huan Nguyen, the Head of Brand Partnerships at, weighed in: “Right now I still believe there is a gap between social media and shopping. And so I think in the next couple of years we will see that gap be reduced… Social commerce … with that comes something truly powerful… There's going to come a point where social media is going to help drive sales  more than it's ever done before.”

  • On the “Do's and Don'ts ” of social media etiquette…

Nadia Hussain, Community Manager of Polyvore, reminded everyone that the social media engagement road goes both ways — if you're feeling love from users, give them some love back. Engage and respond in a timely manner, whether it's positive or criticism.

“Never complain, and never explain,” is the motto Lo uses in social media. You should be able to let your work speak for itself, and stand by it. On the other hand, there's an inherent feeling to want to complain about others on social media, but complaining is unproductive and overall gives your presence a negative tone. Think twice about what someone who is reading your feed will take away.

Lombardo agreed, noting that manners that apply in real-life also apply in social media. A future boss or brand can see rude comments you may have made previously — so while you should voice your opinion, be mindful of how you do so.

[Photo source: Robin Marchant/Getty Images North America]

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4 Responses

  1. Lady B

    Pioneers like Grace are very lucky because they are so established that they can live in their own bubble, totally doing their thing and yet still be relevant to our society today.

  2. Alyssa Tomasic

    I attended Teen Vogue Fashion University this year! Check out my blog to see posts that describe my experience. I am writing a post every day this week about what I did/ learned at Fashion U. I also have pictures of the Teen Vogue editorial floor coming sometime this week:)

  3. Ruta R

    (“It’s not about the money, it’s about doing something you are passionate about… if you don’t enjoy it, you should stop.” She also noted that it’s the person staying after 5pm who becomes successful, not the person running off to a party.”

    That is so completely true. I love this woman.

  4. Kris

    one point she makes that I love is that social media and any digital interaction should be one that replicates real-life! Mannerisms, etc! Love this & thanks iFB for sharing <3

    -K from