I was watching The Beat with Ari Melber last week and saw a discussion featuring Ari, Pulitzer Prize winner Peggy Noonan, and fashion icon André Leon Talley.
It was fun. Among the topics, they discussed Michelle Obama’s glittery Balenciaga boots, Peggy’s glittery cardigan, and the basic idea of wearing what makes you feel great. And Ari referred to a recent documentary about André Leon Talley.
Well, I had to see that. André Leon Talley has been one of the industry’s biggest personalities for decades. As you know, I love a fashion documentary (see below for other excellent fashion docs) (plus the Sounds of Kermit playlist of course).
I had to put down my knitting, because there’s so much to see in The Gospel According to André. Talley is an astonishing sight in every frame: extravagantly attired at all times, with looks that draw from history, literature, the military, art. He approaches it with such humor—we should all take to heart his ease in dressing. Wear something incredible. Why the hell not?
His story is one of a kid growing up in Jim Crow-segregated Durham, North Carolina, who discovers Vogue magazine at the public library. He talks about the grandmother who raised him, how she dressed, how Sunday church was the centerpiece of style, how his grandmother had a ton of hats.
He learned French and went to Brown, at which point the tall, stylish young man from Durham took the fashion world by storm.
He is an encyclopedia of so many things—Anna Wintour confesses that her own knowledge of fashion history was lacking, and Talley taught her so much.
The single-minded focus of Talley’s career is so fascinating. To go from reading Vogue as a child to being one of its most famous contributors? It’s quite an arc, one with moments of sadness and pain.
But the caftans! He’s dazzling to see, and he knows it. And loves that we love it.
The Gospel According to André is available in a bunch of places online—see the options here. Highest recommendation.