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

Andre Leon Talley was raised in the Jim Crow South by his grandmother, a maid at Duke University. It was just the two of them, and Talley believes his love of fashion began with love for her 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. When 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.

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.

FOUR BLACK WOMEN DESIGNERS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Fashion design is not known for inclusivity: it takes phenomenal talent and tenacity to excel in a world defined by European standards. Today, we recognize four black women designers whose phenomenal work champions diverse standards of beauty and challenges the status quo:  

Tracey Reese in a tee shirt with Angela Davis quote. Image: Anna Webber

Tracey Reese in a tee shirt with Angela Davis quote. Image: Anna Webber

Tracey Reese grew up making clothes alongside her mother on their matching sewing machines in Detroit. A Parsons and Perry Ellis alum, her namesake line is vintage-inspired, ultra-feminine, and has a cult following that includes Michelle Obama and Halle Berry.

Michelle Ochs and Carly Cushnie of Cushnie et Ochs. Image: Stylebistro

Michelle Ochs and Carly Cushnie of Cushnie et Ochs. Image: Stylebistro

Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs launched Cushnie et Ochs after graduating Parsons in 2008. Focused on clean lines and the perfect fit, Cushnie et Ochs has a reputation for design that juxtaposes sensuality and sophistication: Adriana Lima, Kerry Washington, Olivia Wilde, and Eva Longoria are devoted fans. NOTE: the pair recently split professionally, Ms. Cushnie remains at the line.

Aurora James in Africa. Image: aurorajames.com

Aurora James in Africa. Image: aurorajames.com

Toronto native and New York City transplant Aurora James is Creative Director for Brother Vellies. She has two goals for the line: to introduce the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, and to create sustainable work for artisans in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco. A member of CFDA since 2016, Ms. James won the coveted 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

XOXO,

LUCIANN

PS: You can shop many of these designers -and other lines that represent diverse talent- at Common Threads Boulder and Denver.