Andre Leon Talley and Unconditional Love

 

 Andre Leon Talley in a signature caftan; image via The Daily Beast.

Andre Leon Talley in a signature caftan; image via The Daily Beast.

“I don’t tear down. I prefer to build up.”

            -Andre Leon Talley

 Image via Refinery 29.

Image via Refinery 29.

Andre Leon Talley was raised in Jim Crow South by his grandmother, a maid at Duke University. It was just the two of them. Talley’s love of fashion began with love for her (she was very frugal, very stylish, and full of unconditional love, he remembers) and how she dressed for church: “Handbags, gloves chosen carefully. My grandmother had the most beautiful wardrobe of gloves. Calfskin gloves in the winter, you wore beautiful net gloves in summer, you wore beautiful cotton gloves, so all of that was very much ritualistic, and I loved it.”

 Working with Diana Vreeland of Vogue; image via Pinterest.

Working with Diana Vreeland of Vogue; image via Pinterest.

When Talley was  9 or 10 years old, he found an issue of Vogue at the public library. “"[Vogue] was my gateway to the world outside of Durham," he says. "It was the world of literature, what was happening in the world of art, what was happening in the world of entertainment." He papered his bedroom walls with images torn from the magazine. Outside the home, Talley was bullied for his race, his size, his clothes, and his mannerisms. But he remembers a lot of good things--the unconditional love of his grandma, the lifelong friendships forged in a segregated high school.

 With Grace Jones via Whowhatwear.

With Grace Jones via Whowhatwear.

 With Anna Wintour; image via Pinterest. 

With Anna Wintour; image via Pinterest. 

Talley went on to study French Literature at Brown University, and moved to New York City in 1974. He worked first for Andy Warhol at the Factory, then with Diana Vreeland and Anna Wintour at Vogue, ultimately serving as its creative director and editor-at-large. Asked about working for the magazine he worshipped as a child, Talley says, "I just rose to the occasion. I stood up straight and tall — like a tall, tall sunflower — and I just radiated the light and the beauty of my mind in relationship to the world of fashion." 

You can learn more about Andre Leon Talley's life and influence in the new Kate Novack documentary film The Gospel According to Andre.

 One of Mr. Talley's press photos for the  The Gospel's...  tour; image via Twitter. 

One of Mr. Talley's press photos for the The Gospel's... tour; image via Twitter. 

TO DO: 

1. Go see this film!

2. Stand up straight and tall-like a tall, tall sunflower--and radiate...

3. Wear a caftan.

XOXO,

Luciann

PS: Thank you to NPR for quotes from interviews done with Mr. Talley.