Grace Coddington and Louis Vuitton Team Up For a Feline-Filled Collaboration

Photographed by Craig McDean

Nearly two years after stepping down as creative director of Vogue U.S., Grace Coddington has been keeping busy freelancing and lending her idiocentric vision to special projects in the luxury fashion realm. This fall, the red-haired visionary has teamed up with Louis Vuitton, alongside Nicolas Ghesquière—whom she met on a Vogue shoot back in 2000—on a capsule collection inspired by their respective pets. Befittingly titled the Catogram, the capsule showcases illustrations drawn by Coddington, depicting her Persian cats, Pumpkin and Blanket, as well as Ghesquière’s dog, Léon, who she drew as a puppy: “Dogs are more like cats when they’re puppies, so I drew Léon when he was a puppy.” An exploration of the craftsmanship and savoir faire of the house, timeless classics such as clutches are playfully transformed by reclining cats and smiling dogs, and pyjamas are redefined as stylish daywear. Here, the charming, one-of-a-kind Coddington describes the creative process behind the collection and her love of cats.

“I think that Nicolas thinks I’m eccentric. I don’t know if I am. I don’t think eccentric people ever think they are; they think they’re normal. I think I’m normal.”

“He’s never following a trend and always driving fashion forward. He bravely makes statements that he could be dashed for; he’s always bold, and always convincing. He has a very particular woman—one who started at Balenciaga, but is really defining herself now. You can also see her in the choice of celebrities who sit in his front row; so often when you see those people all dolled up you know that they might have been paid a million dollars to sit there, but they don’t look very comfortable. But his women always look special—at the Met Gala earlier this year, his little group was the one that appeared truly elegant and original. Theirs was the party I wanted to be at.”

“We’d been talking about doing something together for about three years—and when I left Vogue to go freelance we finally could. It was obvious that it was going to involve cats, but I very much wanted to involve his dog Léon, too. The collaboration is between Nicolas and I—[in Catogram] we are personified through our animals, so to speak.”

“Either you’re a cat person or a dog person and, in my case, I’m a cat person. I usually find I don’t like people who don’t like animals—it doesn’t matter whether it’s cats, or dogs, or horses, or mice, or guinea pigs, although I like for birds to be wild. It’s tragic to see a bird in a cage, only fluttering around a few square feet—there’s something rather weird about people who like birds in cages. I’ve always liked heavy, chunky cats more than the very feline, skinny sorts with long pointed noses. I used to go and hang out a lot at the cat show at Madison Square Gardens; I met a woman there with three kittens and that’s where I got Pumpkin, and later I got Blanket from her, too.”

“I’ve been drawing cats for a long time—I did a whole book inspired by my cats, The Catwalk Cats! So, I pulled out their characters again—Baby was always fat, and Henri was always chunky; Coco was the thinnest of all cats, she was Coco Chanel, the fashion cat. They have all had their own characters, and that’s what I illustrate.”

“I found their travelling exhibition of trunks particularly amazing—it’s fascinating to see all of the different shapes and sizes, what they have put in them, how they have tailor-made pieces for particular customers. It is an extraordinary house with extraordinary quality and an extraordinary history. They have amazing groups of people working at every different métier, and it feels as though anything is possible. I was worried that people would resent my coming in and making suggestions, but they were so lovely and excited, and it made the whole process such a pleasure. I love that they do collaborations and that they have a sense of humour.”

“I was always thinking of myself—what would I want if I were a client? For example, I would really need an umbrella in case it was raining cats and dogs, and I was desperate to have a blanket printed with Blanket, my cat. I even made a trunk, but it’s a soft trunk that you can lift, and since I love drawing, it contains bags filled with crayons and pencils and paper—all things connected with what I’d like to do if I were to go on a picnic. I’d have a tablecloth, a few little stools, and my pyjamas to wear so that I would be comfortable.”


Discover the full Louis Vuitton x Grace Coddington collection here