cult of personality

André Leon Talley on Anna Wintour, Bungalow 8, and TMZ

It’s difficult to wrangle André Leon Talley for a substantial interview in the tents, but Mediabistro did a very smart thing and sat down with Talley at his favorite diner in White Plains near his country house. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of Fashion Week (unless he goes to a diner where everyone wears five-inch Louboutins, which we wouldn’t entirely rule out). He revealed that he and Anna Wintour can basically read each other’s minds, he has “no desire” to hit up Bungalow 8, and that the Vogue he knows is nothing like the one parodied in The Devil Wears Prada. Some highlights:

Talley has stayed on so long at Vogue because he stays close to Anna Wintour.

The first day I went into the office to meet the former editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella, Anna sent me a note saying, ‘I’m so glad you’re on board.’ My relationship with Anna [Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief] is one where we understand each other. We can communicate silently.

He thinks Candace Bushnell is creative. Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger? Not so much.

Sex and the City was a great thing because it’s very positive — and not because I had a cameo. It was a great movie, a great movie for women, a great movie about New York coming out of Candace Bushnell, who worked at Vogue and didn’t write a tell-all book — she created something original. She took her own saga of being the girl in New York and created something which is far more creative than The Devil Wears Prada. I didn’t read the book. I did see the movie and it was not like Vogue. [Laughs] Not the Vogue I know.

Talley used to be a Studio 54 fixture, but he be clubbin’ no longer. In fact, he has no clue what you’re doing.

I’m sure Bungalow 8 is great. I’ve never been inside and have no desire to go. The same for the Buddha Bar or any of those places. I don’t think going out is what it used to be at all. Each generation has its moment, and with this generation, I don’t know exactly what they do.

He watches TMZ!

What’s that show? TMZ? They stand there and say, ‘I’ve got this on this person.’ The focus on celebrities can be detrimental because people could be thinking of other things, but it’s a part of the culture and it’s what sells.

He stands by the Oscar outfit he selected for Jennifer Hudson that everyone hated on.

They had to pick on someone and they picked on Jennifer. It didn’t make any sense at all. She looked incredible. The color was chosen for her. It was her first time going to the Oscars, and she looked dignified and appropriate.

He always finds something beautiful in a runway show, even if it’s just the heel of a shoe.

I always pay attention, although I never take notes. If it’s meant to be remembered, I can remember it. If it’s bad, I just erase it from my mind right there. I don’t draw or sketch, but I can remember.

He doesn’t know who all the starlets in the front rows are either, but he knows editors are more important.

Some come over to you and say hello, and you’ve never seen them before in your life. But it doesn’t wear you down because it’s just part of the momentum … The cardinal rule is: Don’t hold up your show for a celebrity because the editors are not going to be happy.

If Talley got a second-row seat (perish the thought), he wouldn’t leave.

That wouldn’t be polite. I’ve sat down and waited for a show that was two hours late [Marc Jacobs]. I’d think if it was three hours late, I’d get up and walk out.

His mantra is simple: smile.

I will sit in the car on the way to a meeting and just smile. I really mean that. It helps you get through life. If you have nothing to say, smile. Look up at the sky and smile. Just be grateful.

So What Do You Do, Andre Leon Talley, Editor-at-Large, Vogue? [Mediabistro]

André Leon Talley on Anna Wintour, Bungalow 8, and TMZ