One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard came from fashion influencer and master, Andre Leon Talley during his brief visit to Atlanta was “Hydrate yourself with luxury and style.” This is the epitome of his life and character. He is a larger than life human who was placed here to grace us with the knowledge that he has gathered on his travels around the globe, the fabulous circles of people that he is a part of, the fashion houses who he knows their creators and designers on a first name basis, he’s a god in industry. Basically.
Watching “The Gospel According to Andre” was an amazing story of a young African-American boy from Durham, NC that grew into a fashion industry leader and influencer. One returning message in the film was how he encourages others to go for their dreams that live within them. If you are blessed with finding your passion early in life as he did, work that dream and make moves to get to your goals. He credits his grandmother who raised him with supporting his innate passion for fashion and luxury. He was shown the same support by his grandmother and she bought him clothes, let him express himself through his art of dressing and clothes and was his greatest defender in the southern culture of homophobia.
She bought him clothes, let him express himself through his art of dressing and clothes and was his greatest defender in the southern culture of homophobia. When he began to move through the industry, he met and developed a fantastic relationship with Diana Vreeland who he says reminded him greatly of his grandmother. Vreeland took him under her wing and guided him and taught him to think bigger and look deeper. Her lessons and guidance led him to reach the heights of the fashion industry that others dream of: rubbing elbows with Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, and so, so many others.
The movie follows the meteoric rise of Andre and lets the viewer inside the good and exciting as well the bad and painful. Much of the movie touched on the weight issues faced by the towering giant of a man and his struggles with gain and loss. He also touches on how his size and race had been used against him to degrade his work and place in the fashion room. In a rare moment Andre allowed his emotions to emerge as he spoke of a colleague whom he admired and referred to him as “Queen Kong” due to his larger than life stature, race, sexuality and over-the-top personality. There was also a peek into a world that he seems to wish he’d experienced but had not: love. His lack of a true love or love life has escaped him as he traveled the world and it seemed to only have been shared with the runway looks and friends he’s made along the way.
As he began to move through the industry, he met and developed a fantastic relationship with Diana Vreeland who he says reminded him greatly of his grandmother. These two women were the great loves of his life. Vreeland took him under her wing and guided him and taught him to think bigger and look deeper into the world he was about to enter. He recalls a story where she dramatically stated that she wanted “macarons”. At the time, with Andre being new to the fascinations of Mrs. Vreeland, thought to himself, “what does she want with Lorna Doone cookies?” Knowing that she couldn’t possibly mean a sweet treat, he made his way to the fashion section of a library and looked up macarons. He discovered that Ms. Vreeland was indeed speaking of a 19th century hairstyle with long braids that were styled in a tight bun pressed against the ears. Very reminiscent of Princess Leia in “Star Wars”.
This is just a minute story that he shares with audiences who hang on his every word waiting for one of fabulous quips or funny anecdotes about his fantastic life and career. Even though the industry seeming overlooks Andre, he gets his accolades from the future. The future fashion designers at SCAD, the new and upcoming designers who value and take heed to his opinion on their new looks. He is valued for his expertise and over-the-top personality. He certainly has made a king-sized mark on the world. Not just the world of fashion.
Watch the trailer for “The Gospel According to Andre” below.