Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley is known for his taste and candor, whether lauding young designers like LaQuan Smith or Jason Wu, chiding America’s Next Top Model contenders for their “dreckitude,” or introducing sadly shod shoppers to new Manolo Blahniks. Most recently, he was distressed by the parade of lackluster frocks at the Emmys. “Red-carpet style has not evolved,” he sighs. “Whenever I see the red-carpet shows, I wonder what happened to these people. Who told them to get dressed that way?” (If only he could host the award pre-shows, we might be able to watch them without the mute button on … )
Tonight, Talley is trading his usual front-row seat for the catwalk, hosting Fashion’s Night Out’s first public fashion show with blogger and model Hanneli Mustaparta, which will be streamed live on cbs.com. We chatted with the Fashion Week fixture about his Fashion’s Night Out plans, dream ANTM guest judge, and reemergence on the tennis court.
So you’re hosting the Fashion’s Night Out fashion show and webcast. What’s your strategy?
I’m delighted to be co-hosting with Hanneli. I’ve been having meetings all this week; this is going to be historically significant. We’re bringing fashion to the people.
Do you think Fashion Week should be made more accessible to the public?
Of course — it’s very important that fashion be accessible to everyone. Anna [Wintour] has spearheaded something that is vital to increasing fashion awareness and boosting the economy of shopping.
What’s your agenda for Fashion’s Night Out?
First I’ll go to Manolo Blahnik, then to Dylan Lauren’s candy store. I’m on a panel judging dresses made from candy by Savannah College of Art and Design students. I’ll pass by Chanel quickly, then head down to the Ralph Lauren store, where I’m introducing a performance by Janelle Monae. And then I’ll go to Début, where they’re selling T-shirts painted with my likeness.
Who are your favorite designers?
Well, I have lots of them. I always look to Carolina Herrera and Ralph Lauren. Marc Jacobs is going to be a special moment in Fashion Week — it always is. And there’s also always some excitement at Donna Karan.
Any up-and-comers you’re excited about?
LaQuan Smith. It’s extra-special to see someone who’s self-taught. He cut his collection in his grandmother’s bedroom in Queens, but his clothes are flawlessly finished, with a real sense of modernity.
T-shirts of Lynn Yaeger, André Leon Talley, and Glenn O’Brien from Debut’s Faces of Fashion collection.Photo: Courtesy of Debut.