If you’re like us, you tuned in to the season premiere of America’s Next Top Model last night, after staunchly avoiding it for years, just to see André Leon Talley make his debut on the judging panel. “Hey Yall! Two minutes to my big debut next to Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model. Allegra con Vivace! ALT,” he tweeted last night. “So excited. We got it gwoin On! Right Now. On Tyra Banks America’s Next Top Model, my cycle debut! Hurrah! Andre Leon Talley,” he added shortly thereafter. But he wasn’t on the episode!
“My utmost apologies to ALL.!. No one at ANTM bothered to tell me I was not on in the 90 min, special. Stay tuned to next Thursday for sure,” he tweeted after it ended. Actually, he means Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST, which is the show’s regularly scheduled time slot.
Anyway, we caught up with Talley not long before last night’s ANTM premiere and talked everything from Anna Wintour’s television-watching habits to riding elephants to the time he told Christina Hendricks her red-carpet style was bad.
Why didn’t you go to the European fashion shows?
I haven’t been to London or Milan or Paris in two or three seasons.
But other people from Vogue went.
Oh yeah, they’re all going. I chose not to go. It’s my choice. They would send me, but it’s my choice.
Is it true you’d never seen ANTM before you went on it?
I’d never seen the show.
Have you caught up on past seasons?
No, I have not caught up. I’d love to look at it, but I haven’t had time.
Has Anna seen the show now that you’re on it?
Oh no, Anna doesn’t look at television. Maybe tennis. Just tennis.
She’s not a fan of reality TV?
Well, we haven’t discussed it, but I don’t think she’s a television-watcher. I’ve been to her home many times and I’ve never seen her watch the TV.
Does she own one?
I … I don’t know! I never even realized! I don’t recall her having a TV! There’s certainly no TV in her living room. I think there may be a TV in her guest room.
Was it hard fitting in with the judges’ panel?
No! I love Tyra. It’s like coming home.
Do you think “dreckitude” will catch on?
We will see! I don’t know. I can’t gauge these things. This is all new to me.
We heard you rode an elephant.
Oh God no, sweetie! Oh no, no, no, no, no! I love the rumor, but it’s not true. I went to see an elephant in a zoo and we bonded. Tyra and I spent an afternoon with an elephant. But we by no means rode the elephant. I love the idea that people think I’m riding elephants on the show. That’s cool.
You wanted to ride a horse, though!
But I’m not riding any elephants until … Well, I would ride the elephant we met. Asia was a lovely elephant. We went to a zoo and we met an elephant and we loved her.
ANTM always talks about changing the face of fashion, but still only 17 percent of the models on runways in New York this year were women of color.
Oh, but Diane Von Furstenberg did her duty! Half her show was black models. That was one of the great shows. You know, it’s never going to go back to what it was. We will always make them aware. There is always going to be an awareness about that. I don’t think that is a fair criticism of that, because in all the shows there was lots of diversity.
You criticized Christina Hendricks’s red-carpet fashion, saying one dress she wore reminded you of a “roadside-diner peach melba.” What would you suggest she wear?
Well, I told her what I thought she should wear. I went up to her at the L’Wren Scott show, where she was seated next to Mick Jagger, and after the show I said, “Christina, my name is André. You have been very, very beautiful. You are very inspiring to me. I love what you do. But you have been badly dressed for the red-carpet season. You need to wear that blue dress that was on the runway that L’Wren Scott just showed.” And she said, “I’ll take your advice.” And then I went to L’Wren, and I said, “I told her to wear your blue dress.” And she said, “That’s funny, I was just thinking that!”
What does it look like?
I would say it’s a Wallis Windsor blue, very slim, long, pale-blue dress. It’ll look great with her red hair. It has a red corsage. It’s like a Versailles blue. It’s not a bright blue. It’s a pale, face-powder blue. Beautiful, slim-cut. It’s good for the cleavage, and it’s got a little drama.