I am one of the ones who was introduced to André Leon Talley in his later life. I first came across André from watching the legendary Wendy Williams interview with him in 2018, while he was promoting his documentary “The Gospel According To André.” At the time I didn’t fully appreciate André Talley and his life work because honestly, I don’t consider myself a luxury brand fashionista. I love and adore fashion but I stay in my price range with it, for the most part. 😆
I don’t think there’s a soul that will deny the impact André Leon Talley; Creative Director, Journalist, Fashion Historian, Former Vogue editor-in-Chief, and style icon made in fashion, and for black men and women in the fashion industry. He definitely opened the doors and paved a way for black men and women to not only have a voice but be seen and heard in the fashion industry.
“To be totally candid my fashion history is not so great and his was impeccable, so I think I learned a lot from him.”Anna Wintour – “The Gospel According To André”
In 2021, André was in the celebrity gossip blogs for a legal dispute over his home in White Plains, New York, and the situation really made me uneasy. When I came across the stories André was battling an eviction over his home I was stunned; thinking how can this iconic man who’s traveled the world and was a part of such integral times in fashion; building brands and making iconic fashion statements be fighting against an eviction. 🤯
“Fashion does not take care of its people. No one is going to take care of me, except I am going to take care of myself.”André Leon Talley – May 2018
Although, I yet have had a chance to read André’s Memoir The Chiffon Trenches (I’ve ordered it though) which goes more in-depth about his relationships with legendary fashion houses, designers, his upbringing, and his career at Vogue. André briefly vocalized his financial illiteracy in his Wendy Williams interview in 2018, when she spoke on how long overdue it was for his own fashion line or fragrance. I also came across a great article in the New York Times which covered a few moments from Andre’s book and his financial woes. The article also spoke in-depth on the gift and experience currency exchange in the fashion industry which does not impart on the low-income wages for the daily contributors of the industry.
All of this had me thinking, what a blessing it was for André Talley to rise above his many obstacles and not only overcome, but succeed in his lifetime, and live the life of his very own dreams. But is it enough?
Personally, I’m early in my career and I’m so excited for it to take off. 🚀 I learned so much from André Leon Talley in my studies of him; he is an example that knowledge is power and when you belong somewhere, you belong, no matter what the world tells you. But he is also an example as to why I believe as black men and women we need to be the owners and not just the laborers for many of these companies. Andre has done so much for pop culture, African American culture, and fashion, and it’s a shame, that although he had many millionaire business acquaintances he couldn’t flex his skill and art by starting his own brand or even a collection with one of their brands.
It was a different time then so there’s much to say about the systemic racism and the ugly side of the business that played a part but one thing we can not argue is that André Leon Talley definitely walked, so many of us can run and my only hope is that as creators and artist we can be more than just labor workers but owners; and not only live rich fulfilling lives while we’re young but also while we are older and hopefully many of us, if not all can leave a legacy of financial freedom for our families and communities too. 💗
Let’s keep celebrating and learning from Mr. Talley’s work! He is definitely an icon and I’m happy that I’ve learned so much from him. God Bless his amazing soul! 🤎
I think everyone should watch André’s documentary and order his book if you haven’t already, I’m so excited to read mine! 😊
Book link – The Chiffon Trenches
Documentary link – The Gospel According To André