Striking, regal and debonair, no matter your familiarity or perceived notion of Andre Leon Talley, you’re inquisitively drawn to his presence and intrigued by his passion for worldly fashion. One third of the American Vogue holy trinity alongside Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, the strappingly chic and secure Editor-At-Large has played the style savior to not just millions of Vogue readers but, to many of Hollywood’s most beloved and recognized personalities. To the untrained eye, figuratively this sore thumb might strike others as a most eccentric and misplaced figure in the world of high fashion. But, after sitting and soaking in his words of wisdom, you come to learn that fashion is indeed his first language.
“Are you the young lady who is supposed to be interviewing me?” he beckoned charmingly. Nervous and unsure if I would be dressed to his liking, I forced a tense smile, nodded yes and stood awkwardly in admiration spellbound by the iconic man before me. “Well come sit with me!” he warmly motioned inviting me to come closer and sit beside him this one Sunday afternoon at George Faison’s Firehouse Theater in Harlem. I’d been prepped earlier on that I’d be granted a quick interview and had already primed myself for an abrupt reception given his many other important cares scheduled for the intimate event. Instead I was welcomed with a much unexpected and opposite treatment. Within the next fifteen minutes, I was a more enlightened and appreciative lover of fashion and the man whom granted me this courtesy intrusion. Perched luxuriously in a grand velvet chair, wearing a chic authentic African clothed cape and caramel-mauve peep toe velvet slippers, this alluring industry legend had proven to be modest, sophisticated and compassionate.
“I loved any picture in Vogue that evoked a world that I didn’t know about in Durham, North Carolina. I was very much creating my own world.”
“I loved any picture in Vogue that evoked a world that I didn’t know about in Durham, North Carolina. I was very much creating my own world.” he tells of his days of obsessively channeling fashion as a young man. “I dreamt about visual stunningness, visual sophistication.” he shares. This curiosity of visual expression would later be honed during his time as a student at Brown University where he’d befriended several fashion students studying at the esteemed Rhode Island School of Design. Mastering his natural aptitude for developing innovative and eye pleasing style stories, he’d earned himself a name within the fashion industry having worked for Women’s Wear Daily, The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, W Magazine and of course his current residency at Vogue Magazine.
“Always have an education to fall back on. That’s the most important thing.” he preached reassuringly. Stressing that quality, consistency, passion and faith are the pillars to success for a fulfilling and lasting career in the fashion industry and life in general, his honesty and encouragement exudes with an authenticity unmatched. An authoritative but, gentle giant Mr. Talley is the finest example of the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover”. Distinguished and enigmatic, whether in Kente or on the tennis courts, Andre Leon Talley is filled with enough charm and humility to heal the world.