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André Leon Talley on His New Memoir “The Chiffon Trenches”

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As someone who was once perched atop the highest echelons of fashion, André Leon Talley has lived the kind of opulent lifestyle most people can’t even begin to fathom. Tales of lavish weekends at the French estates of wealthy countesses and dukes, dancing with Diana Ross at Studio 54 and sitting front row at virtually every important haute couture show are just some of the anecdotes in a career that spans almost 40 years.

These days, Talley is spends most of his time at his White Plains home in upstate New York. “I’ve only been out about four times since the pandemic started,” he tells me on the phone from his front porch on a comfortably warm day. Though, even before the lockdown ensued, he’s hardly been a presence on the fashion circuit like he used to be.

We’re talking about his new book, The Chiffon Trenches, a memoir that’s garnered a fair level of attention recently after excerpts about his tumultuous relationship with Vogue editor Anna Wintour surfaced online. Talley maintains that this book is a “love letter to Anna” even though numerous passages take shots at her and his former employer, Condé Nast, for “spitting people out.”


André Leon Talley and Anna Wintour at the S by Serena NYFW Presentation in February 2020

Does he still expect to have a working relationship with Condé Nast after more of these lamentations come to light? (He’s still listed as a contributing editor at Vogue.) “That is to be determined. I have no idea. I am not going to project,” he says. “I respect the institution of Vogue and what it has given to me in terms of my career.”

Talley adds that he’s still close to many of the friends he made at the publication, including fashion editors Tonne Goodman, Grace Coddington, and Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. He describes Jonathan Newhouse, the company’s chairman, as someone who’s always been very kind to him. Because of that, he says he’s never felt any hesitation about one thing he’s written about his time there.

But perhaps it’s his complicated friendship with Wintour that has most readers intrigued. Despite some less-than-flattering depictions of the Vogue editor throughout the book, and even though they’re not as close as they once were, Wintour has not cut off Talley completely. She still asks Talley to attend her Chanel couture fittings, and they also sat together at a fashion presentation for Serena Williams’ clothing line in February. (Talley sent her a galley of the book in January, where she only asked some parts about her children be removed.)


André Leon Talley and Marina Schiano in 1980

I raise the question of whether he thinks that maybe some issues could have been avoided had he not let his personal life interfere with his professional life. It seemed to be a recurring thread in each chapter, where he lets people he works with get too close — or he mixes business with pleasure too often. After all, Wintour did consider him as family at one point.

“I don’t know. I kind of wish that there had been more openness in dialogue, but that was never our strengths,” he says after giving it some thought. “I was perhaps the one other person at the magazine that was included in her family’s special events, funerals and things like that so I felt very close to her. But, we never spoke about our relationship.”

He also sheds light into his long friendship with the late Karl Lagerfeld, who supplied Talley with an abundance of gifts and clothes and let him into his tight inner circle’s decadent lifestyle. The former Chanel designer reportedly had a long history of dropping friends like flies, which Talley was acutely aware of at the time but dismissed any suggestion that he had to walk on eggshells to be around him. (The friendship eventually did fall apart.)


André Leon Talley and Karl Lagerfeld at the Chanel Cruise show in 2012

“I was very close with him for thirty years,” he says. “I certainly did have to circumvent his universe casually and with a great deal of attention and a great deal of finessing. But this was a friendship based on communication and a bonding, a passion for knowledge, a passion for the culture of style, a passion for history and a curiosity for everything.”

Talley would have to juggle being friends with both Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, both of whom did not take too kindly to one another. One memorable tidbit from the book was when a celebratory dinner was thrown in his honor for landing at job at WWD in the Paris bureau. On one side of the table sat YSL’s entourage, while Lagerfeld’s team kept to themselves on the other side, showing the delicate nature of friendships in fashion at the time.

There are some parts of his career Talley leaves out from the book entirely, such as his short-lived tenures at Numero Russia and the shoe e-tailer Zappos after he left Vogue. There’s also not a single thing written about his time on America’s Next Top Model, where he served as a judge for four cycles. He quickly shuts down anything I ask him about Tyra Banks and his experience on the show. “I’ll keep that for another book,” he says.

After all is said and done, he insists that there is no part of him that sought any sense of closure when writing about his life and relationships. “I had no closure with Karl Lagerfeld when he passed away and I’m not looking for it now,” he says. “I’m just stating the truth. I’m just looking to go through the day and get to the next day.”

Photos via Getty/ J. Countess

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Four simple games that will keep your unruly kids entertained for at least 20 minutes

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It’s been a long time since lockdown started. For some of us that’s meant weeks of mindless TV-watching and worrying about the future. For anyone with kids, it’s been hectic, busy, chaos, juggling jobs with being a parent and teacher 24/7. Don’t fear if you’ve run out of ideas for fun things to do. We got Mike Rampton, author of new kids’ games book ‘Open in Case of Emergency’ (Pop Press, £9.99), to reveal four you can play with minimal effort, minimal mess and minimal outside. 

1. Beasts in the tundra

A bit of preparation the night before and everyone becomes an archaeologist.

Age Four and up
Players Two and up (dependent on freezer space).
What you need One plastic box and one toy per player or team, a freezer.
How to play Freeze the toys in water in the plastic boxes the night before. Action figures or dinosaurs are ideal, and you can consider adding food colouring to the water to make it that bit wackier. Players then have to release their creatures from their frozen slumbers – just like Captain America – before their opponents do. Breathing heavily on to the ice, rubbing it or wrapping it up might all work, or (with adult supervision) heat and gravity can work wonders…

2. Blow football

A huffing, puffing, indoor version of the world’s most popular sport.

Age Five and up.
Players Two.
What you need Two straws, a ping-pong ball and something for goals: margarine tubs, books, whatever works.
How to play Mark out a pitch (or use something that already has two ends, like a rug or a table) using tape if needed. Work out where the centre line is, and go for it [blowing the ball through the straws], trying to score goals against your opponent. If anyone touches the ball with their hands, the other player gets a penalty from the centre line. The first to five goals wins.

Or blow skiing

Make a slalom course around a table using whatever is to hand – clumps of Blu-Tack with toothpicks sticking up out of them and a little paper flag make very nice ski gates, for instance. Take it in turns to do time trials [blowing the ball] around the course, with a ten-second penalty for every flag hit and a 30-second penalty if the ball falls off the table.

3. The great sock hunt

A scavenger hunt that makes up in ease for what it lacks in glamour.

Age Five and up.
Players Two and up.
What you need As many different pairs of socks as you wish.
How to play Hide one sock from every pair around the house, then present players with a pile of odd socks. Within a time limit (which depends on how big the house is, how many socks you’ve hidden, how good at hiding socks you are, and how good at finding socks they are – start with five minutes and experiment), and never carrying more than one sock at a time, can they reunite all the pairs?

Or super secret sock search

Hide the odd socks apart from one, which, instead of being hidden somewhere around the house, goes in your pocket. Players take it in turns to spend one minute each searching for socks, with each one they find eliminating one option as to what your pocketed ‘secret sock’ could be. The player who correctly describes that sock wins.

4. Five pence hockey

Air hockey tables cost a fortune. This alternative costs less than anything.

Age Seven and up.
Players Two.
What you need A table, tape, two 2p coins, one 1p coin.
How to play Don’t play on a table that is likely to get scratched – that’ll make the game a lot more expensive. Use the tape to mark out equally sized goals. Then stand one at either end and play hockey: slide your 2p around with your middle finger, using the penny as a puck. First to ten goals wins.

In homeschooling hell? An expert reveals how to make things as good as they can be.

What to stream if you’re in lockdown with kids.

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Amazon announces its 10-day summer fashion sale Video

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    Why France Is Postponing Its Summer Sales Period – Footwear News

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    To mitigate losses in revenue resulting from the country’s ten-week confinement, France is postponing its summer sales period by three weeks said Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday.

    Like many European countries, France has strict regulations regarding the length of its promotional period. Summer reductions were previously scheduled to run for four weeks from June 24 to July 21 but now they will start on July 15 and run til the middle of August.

    The Institut Français de la Mode (French Institute of Fashion) reported this week that year on year revenues were down by 28.2% percent in the first four months of 2020.

    However, the new regulations only apply to independent retailers who are perceived to be more seriously affected by the pandemic in terms of immediate cash flow than their larger counterparts with more resources.

    Eric Mertz, president of the Fédération Nationale de l’habillement, (the National Clothing Federation) welcomed the fact that the government “was listening to independents who have experienced increased distress due to the downturn in commerce.” Nevertheless, he warned that the measures might not go far enough as stores were still experiencing a 30% drop in attendance compared to normal. He suggested a reassessment might be necessary.

    He had initially proposed that general sales only begin in August. He had also wanted to limit the country’s ventes privées system. These are early private sales for registered customers operated by larger concerns. They constitute an exception to the rules.

    The government’s announcement follows an open letter published last month by a group of international designers and retailers led by Dries Van Noten. It called for a rethink the traditional calendar of retail deliveries and discounts for all retailers, not only independents.

    It proposed that deliveries be realigned with the actual seasons so fall/winter merchandising would take place between August and January and spring/summer between February and July. It also asked that a discount period be set for the end of the season in question as opposed to mid-season sales.

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