I honestly can’t remember when I first realized my eye for fashion or the yearn to be fashionable. I just remember loving a good pair of penny loafers and Eastland’s. I remember wearing Duck-Head and Ralph Lauren shorts with matching shirt and socks. To the wealthy, it may not seem like much or may not be high-end designers, but my parents provided the best they could and in the South, that was pretty good. In my opinion, fashion is not what the piece may cost but it’s all about how you wear it. I do believe that I was blessed to have parents to introduce me to a lifestyle that required one to be successful and fostered that natural “jene se qua.” It was a few years later when I picked up my first Vogue Magazine and this beacon of light began to shine over me. I felt invigorated and inspired. There was something that resonated in me and to this day I am thankful for the right of free speech and the art of publications. For it has given me the priviledge to be introduced to the magnificent talents of Andre Leon Talley.
Under the auspices of Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, the magazine has catapulted the lives of many aspiring models and designers by exposing their talents to millions of readers, month after month. To her immediate right, is a man that I greatly admire. Mr. Talley, the editor-at-large, has been at the helm of the fashion industry for more than 25 years. He attributes his thirst for everything Luxe to his grandmother Bennie Davis. Andre was raised by his grandmother in Durham, NC and graduated from North Carolina Central University. He later went on to get his master’s degree in French from Brown University. He details the love and support of his grandmother in his autobiography. It was at Brown where Mr. Talley befriended students from the near by Rhode Island School of Design. He often visited with them to New York City and began to socialize in the largest circle of influential artistic icons. Mr. Talley was swept into the fashion world and he would be mentored Diana Vreeland (Editor of Vogue during the 60’s), an introduction made possible by his association with Andy Warhol. It was working with Andy Warhol on Interview that Mr. Talley got his big break.
Andre joined Vogue in 1983, as the fashion news director and moved on to be the creative director from 1988-1995. Mr. Talley lived in Paris for several years and returned to Vogue in 1998 to his current position. At the time, he was welcomed by the former editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella. He surprisingly received a note from Anna Wintour saying, “I’m glad you’re on board.” He describes his current relationship with Ms. Wintour, as one where they understand each other and can communicate silently. It is rare that you see pictures from any runway show and Andre is not at the side of Ms. Wintour. He is definitely the most influential man in fashion to date. He credits his tenure at Vogue to embracing the standards that Vogue has stood on for so many years. He studied the life and world of creator Mr. Conde Nast in the 20’s and 30’s. The standards of Vogue are extremely high and it is important to stay true to the art and power of influence. Mr. Talley uses his influence to mentor young designers like Rachel Roy, John Salvidar, and Tracy Reese, also to talents like Jennifer Hudson.
Andre sits on the Board of Trustees at Savannah College of Art and Design, where is he received his honorary Doctorate of Humanities. With the responsibility of someone’s future in his hands, Mr. Talley finds time to write his “Life with Andre” column and publish A.L.T.: A Memoir, published in 2003 and A.L.T. 365+ an art monograph by art direct Sam Shahid, published in 2005.