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Friday, May 22, 2009

Dixie Cape

Amid rolling thunderstorms and blankets of Spanish moss, a handful of fashion's intelligentsia gathered in Savannah, Georgia, last weekend to take in the Savannah College of Art & Design’s annual senior fashion show. Among them were Ruben and Isabel Toledo (who were honored with SCAD's Lifetime Achievement Award) and Vogue’s André Leon Talley, a North Carolinian who holds an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the Southern institution.

I ran into André pre-show, decked out in his now-signature Obama pin (“I’ll be buried with them,” he said of his collection, which includes hundreds of First Family pins alone). Naturally I asked him about his style as a student. “I had a pale yellow, V-neck cashmere sweater—my first cashmere sweater, that my grandmother sacrificed a lot of money to pay for—and my first pair of Italian loafers.”

André's trademark capes, apparently, didn’t enter the picture until college: “I was reading Vogue and dressing like Diana Vreeland’s pictures of Verushka dressed as Greta Garbo in [the 1933 film] Queen Christina. I went out and got myself a big cape, and then I took black silk curtain tassels and roped them around by neck with a white, pleated tuxedo shirt. I would go like that to class, with a big black hat. And I found all of this in North Carolina, by the way. I would walk around campus and people would look at me funny, but my French teachers thought it was wonderful." And there you have it, the source of André's cape craze.

—Alisa Gould-Simon

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Empirical Observation

Damion Matthews...

Andre Leon Talley may have come to San Francisco last week for a Halston retrospective at Neiman Marcus, but what he got was a surprise birthday party organized by the store's European couture specialist, Vicki Winston, who presented him with a birthday cake featuring October's Vogue cover in frosting. Partygoers, who included major Neiman patrons, were then led through a rousing rendition of the birthday song. Surprisingly, however, Danielle Steel was not among them, even though, as Andre later told me, "She's my best friend in San Francisco."

Andre also said he plans to spend the next two days exploring the city. One stop on the list: the de Young museum, which will soon sponsor a major Yves Saint Laurent exhibit. "The de Young is a wonderful museum. It's my favorite place in San Francisco." But he won't overdo it. "I've had so many glamorous birthday parties. This year I'm going to celebrate quietly. I'm going to watch a film about Versailles that someone bought me." Somehow, given San Francisco's courtly delights, we think his time here will stack up to the glamour and grandeur of Versailles.

photo Drew Altizer

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