Ushering in the arrival of the highly anticipated “Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015” exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum, fashion mogul André Leon Talley sat down with an audience to discuss all things fashionable. Talley first got his big break into the coveted fashion world through volunteering at an exhibit curated by Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has gone on to work with designer giants, including Karl Lagerfeld, Manolo Blahnik, Versace and more. LN gives you an insider’s guide to the conversation with the former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine.
On Diana Vreeland:
- “Her presence…her entrance in the Met was ceremonial [in] the way English royalty does parades. She walked only on her toes, even in heels. There was no click-click sound. She wanted to meet the person who had done this outfit [for her exhibit]. It was lunchtime, and she had one sandwich and a little shot of scotch. She asked me, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Andre.’ Mrs. Vreeland wrote on a big yellow tablet, ‘ANDRE. HELPER.’ She told me, ‘You will stay by my side for the rest of this exhibit. NOW, LET’S GET GOING!’”
- “My inspiration growing up was my grandma. Her discipline, protecting me, projecting confidence. My grandma would always say, ‘Wax and shine those wood floors!’ I got to Mrs. Vreeland and she was waxing and shining silver shoes.”
On modern muses:
- “The iconic men, the disruptors who are influencing fashion today, are musicians and rappers. Drake…Jay Z…Kanye West…P. Diddy.”
- “Kanye West is extraordinary. He is a talented artist who takes himself very seriously. Sometimes, you like him; sometimes, you hate him. But he remains influential.”
- “Jaden Smith has fluidity. He wore an albino bat costume to Kim [Kardashian] and Kanye’s wedding. He is on his own trajectory to becoming a big influencer.”
On personal style:
- “Take pride in what you have. You may [only] have one pair of shoes – but you can keep them immaculately polished.”
- “Your clothes must transport you…Make you feel like you are absolutely the most fabulous thing walking down the street.”
- “It’s always a good day to learn something.”
- “You must not be afraid to articulate your passions and thoughts.”
- “[I want to] reach more people with my voice.” Currently, Talley broadcasts a radio show, “Full Length,” on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy channel 102.
On Andy Warhol:
- “From Andy, I learned to love the world with the curiosity of a child.”
On Karl Lagerfeld:
- “Karl is very awesome and intimidating. [He] would wear beautiful silk coats and host dinners by candelabra. He used to make me go for torch-led walks in the frost.”
On his favorite menswear item:
- “[Don’t underestimate] the importance of a beautifully ironed shirt.”
On the future of fashion:
- “Men’s fashion is going to become more fluid, more feminine – and more powerful.”
“Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015” is running from June 25 to September 17. Saint Louis Art Museum, One Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park, 314-721-0072, slam.org.