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I was browsing the library stacks and was SO excited (and a bit shocked) to see “The Chiffon Trenches” by André Leon Talley on the shelf.
I snatched it up immediately.
Talley’s memoir covers his career in fashion from his first magazine job (with Andy Warhol at “Interview”) all the way to his time at “Vogue” with Anna Wintour.
The book has tons of stories about his friendship with Karl Lagerfeld, which was an unexpected surprise.
When Talley worked for “Women’s Wear Daily,” he moved to Paris, where he was included in the inner circle with Oscar de la Renta, Halston, and Yves Saint Laurent.
This memoir really captures the last 50 years of fashion through Talley’s perspective, which includes rumors, racism, and challenges of a notoriously cutthroat industry. Through it all, Talley was a respected and iconic voice in fashion.
Here are some quotes from the book I made note of:
- Love has not been in my life in any degree. I never learned how to maintain strong self-worth when it came to two people getting down, literally clinging to each other. Yet, I have found love in little interludes of innocence or wonderful, life-enhancing bonds, and friendships that grew out of respect, affection, and admiration. I have had many emotional highs and definite lows when it comes to love and romance, yet I am alone.
- Vogue was an institution. I became, for a moment, the most important male in fashion journalism. As an African American man born in the ugly and racist Jim Crow South, I understood how monumental this was. I was the first.
- Love comes in many guises. Love must be kind, and it must be a two-way street. Loyalty between two persons in an alliance of true friendship is a noble human endeavor. In true friendship, a human being finds strength. Good times or bad; the highest peak or the lowest valley in one’s life. While I was under her employ, Anna never shared any personal details of her life with me. Not her divorce, not her father’s death, nothing. But in this moment, I was not her employee, I was her close friend. We officially made up and began spending time together socially.
- This resonates in my life, as I have always, to the very moment I pen this, been afraid of real life. Real life for so long has been one of selected darkness. But the sun eventually shines. I dreamed of the life I have lived and I survived with dignity and grace. After all, my ancestors survived the original sin of this great country, slavery, the injustice of having to suffer racism and survive. If this country can survive all the injustices, what is my plight and my burden? I think it is a true wonder that I have come this far.
Can you tell I loved this book? I was pleasantly surprised with how much Anna Wintour info was in there 🙂 I also really loved all the juice on Karl Lagerfeld!
I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the fashion industry — even just a little bit!
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