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During André Leon Talley's first magazine job, alongside Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decades-long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, André moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily, befriending fashion's During André Leon Talley's first magazine job, alongside Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decades-long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, André moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily, befriending fashion's most important designers (Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta). But as André made friends, he also made enemies. A racially tinged encounter with a member of the house of Yves Saint Laurent sent him back to New York and into the offices of Vogue under Grace Mirabella. There, he eventually became creative director, developing an unlikely but intimate friendship with Anna Wintour. As she rose to the top of Vogue's masthead, André also ascended, and soon became the most influential man in fashion. The Chiffon Trenches offers a candid look at the who's who of the last fifty years of fashion. At once ruthless and empathetic, this engaging memoir tells with raw honesty the story of how André not only survived the brutal style landscape but thrived--despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry--to become one of the most renowned voices and faces in fashion. Woven throughout the book are also André's own personal struggles that have impacted him over the decades, along with intimate stories of those he has turned to for inspiration (Diana Vreeland, Diane von Férstenberg, Lee Radziwill, to name a few), and of course his Southern roots and ongoing faith, which have guided him since childhood.


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During André Leon Talley's first magazine job, alongside Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decades-long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, André moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily, befriending fashion's During André Leon Talley's first magazine job, alongside Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decades-long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, André moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily, befriending fashion's most important designers (Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta). But as André made friends, he also made enemies. A racially tinged encounter with a member of the house of Yves Saint Laurent sent him back to New York and into the offices of Vogue under Grace Mirabella. There, he eventually became creative director, developing an unlikely but intimate friendship with Anna Wintour. As she rose to the top of Vogue's masthead, André also ascended, and soon became the most influential man in fashion. The Chiffon Trenches offers a candid look at the who's who of the last fifty years of fashion. At once ruthless and empathetic, this engaging memoir tells with raw honesty the story of how André not only survived the brutal style landscape but thrived--despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry--to become one of the most renowned voices and faces in fashion. Woven throughout the book are also André's own personal struggles that have impacted him over the decades, along with intimate stories of those he has turned to for inspiration (Diana Vreeland, Diane von Férstenberg, Lee Radziwill, to name a few), and of course his Southern roots and ongoing faith, which have guided him since childhood.

30 review for The Chiffon Trenches

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    "I don't give a damn about clothes, I care about the people who wear them". John Fairchild, owner of Womens Wear Daily (WWD). And so it seems does Anna Wintour, the author with his constant name dropping of the 'private jets only' rich whom I've never heard of. In fact everyone in this rarefied world of 50K handbags.The common denominator is that all of them at one time or another (except the author) behave like absolute shits to people they don't consider important. Even if they are well-dresse "I don't give a damn about clothes, I care about the people who wear them". John Fairchild, owner of Womens Wear Daily (WWD). And so it seems does Anna Wintour, the author with his constant name dropping of the 'private jets only' rich whom I've never heard of. In fact everyone in this rarefied world of 50K handbags.The common denominator is that all of them at one time or another (except the author) behave like absolute shits to people they don't consider important. Even if they are well-dressed. A couple of examples. Karl Lagerfield, Talley's best bud for 40 years, gives fabulously expensive presents and then when he decides he doesn't like the person, demands them back and never acknowledges them again. (Actually despite the hagiographic praise by Talley of Lagerfield, he sounds as if he has raised self-indulgence to an almost godly virtue). He gives away presents, expensive ones with diamonds, within the hour of receiving them, as apparently Anna Wintour does. Naomi Campbell must be first on the plane she has chartered and mustn't be spoken to by underlings. There are no revelations at all, not one, about Anna Wintour. She's a hard, cold businesswoman at the very top of her industry. Why would anyone expect her to be a soft, warm, person who puts people first? Mystifyingly, although she has cut him out of Vogue except as 'contributing editor' and cut him out of her life, she invites him to go along for all her fittings for her Chanel clothes (she no longer pays his expensive car bills for these) and he goes! The world of haute couture is made of designers, mostly gay which might account for the preference for tall, thin, plain, androgenous (and very young) models of the Paris catwalks, their assistants and 'muses' who are mostly the daughters of the very wealthy and/or very famous (view spoiler)[one of them is described as working hard at trying to advise on what colour.... Another describes herself as very fortunate in that she has never had to work, people give her things and spoil her (hide spoiler)] , and the customers. The customers are not usually tall, thin, young or androgenous looking and these days not plain, having been perfected by plastic surgery and their images by photoshop. They are the Ann Bass', Betty Catroux's, Sao Schlumbergers, Pat Altschuts and Deeda Blairs of this world. I don't know any of these names but they are described as 'socialites' which I suppose is what very wealthy people who go out a lot are called. There are also the Beyonces, Kardashians, Katy Perrys and Rene Zellwegers. But none, the known or the celebrities is model-shaped yet they all look fabulous in their clothes. They wouldn't spend upwards of $20,000 on a dress if they didn't. Yet the designers still want these tall girls with boy figures to model their clothes. Talley never loses an opportunity to use the word beautiful, tell the reader if something was expensive (everything is), all the people who sat next to him at a fabulous whatever, how wonderful and erudite and charming and much loved he is. But despite that I liked him. Perhaps because he wove in his rather tragic childhood - not poor, his mother wore designer outfits - raised by his grandmother in the South because his mother wanted a more exciting life unencumbered by a child in New York. His father was equally discarded by her and his relationship with his parents was purely when they visited. But he's disengenous and this is what brought a 2 star book down to a 1.5 star. (I really reserve 1 star books for despicable ones I want to rant about). He is very upset that Anna Wintour has not invited him to commentate on the Met Ball, I quote it (almost) in full as it gives the absolute flavour of this book and the writing: "My replacement on the live-stream video was a young African American female, a YouTube star with some seventeen million followers... What could this talented YouTuber offer? Surely she didn’t know what a martingale back is to a Balenciaga one-seamed coat. Or did she know that Katie Holmes’s Zac Posen dress, worn with great elegance, constructed with great technique, was an homage to the master architect Charles James, who was the subject of the 2014 Met exhibit Charles James: Beyond Fashion? Or that Cher’s incredible Bob Mackie jumpsuit, worn to the gala in December 1974, was the forerunner to all the see-through evening dresses designed by Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy couture, now worn by Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian in this century? Like an extinct dodo bird, my brain, rich and replete with knowledge, has been relegated to the history books." But nowhere in the book does he mention Tyra Banks' name, nowhere does he talk about his four seasons as a judge on America's Next Top Model. When he left he said it was all good, but the omission suggests that he didn't leave on good terms with Tyra or the producers. Given that major omission in his life in fashion, I do not trust the book to be any more than a version of Talley's life he wants us to know about, it makes me suspect that it's not just the warts that have been omitted, but the limb that bears them has been totally cut off. So 1.5 stars rounded up because the author likes books!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    It's hard to believe now, but the 1990s to the early 200s was an era where fashion dominated the cultural landscape in a very different way than it does now. Fashion was dictated through the pages of magazines, by the models (Kate, Christy, Linda, Naomi, Claudia, and Cindy) who commanded not just fashion's gaze but also pop culture's, and above it all, the biggest, most exclusive (and yet you could get a look, once a month) arbiter of what was fashionable, Vogue as edited by Anna Wintour. And wit It's hard to believe now, but the 1990s to the early 200s was an era where fashion dominated the cultural landscape in a very different way than it does now. Fashion was dictated through the pages of magazines, by the models (Kate, Christy, Linda, Naomi, Claudia, and Cindy) who commanded not just fashion's gaze but also pop culture's, and above it all, the biggest, most exclusive (and yet you could get a look, once a month) arbiter of what was fashionable, Vogue as edited by Anna Wintour. And with Anna came Andre. As an ardent reader of Vogue in the 1990s-2000s, I remember Andre Leon Talley. He was a man who could make a designer, a model, a socialite, etc. in his columns, which were breathless word explosions drawing parallels between shirts and history (for example). They were dramatic and excessive and fascinating. As it turns out, so was Andre. A man from the rural south who managed to push past every social and racial barrier like they were nothing (he seems to only have realized the enormity of what he's accomplished in the past few years) to become not just a fixture in fashion, but a force, from the late 1970s to say, 2005 or so. (He was with Vogue for longer, but in his later and final years with Vogue, he and the rest of the magazine's staff, including and especially Anna were willfully and woefully ignorant of the increasing democratization of fashion.) In The Chiffon Trenches, Talley goes through his career in fashion, from the beginning when he worked with Diana Vreeland, through the period where he was one of *the* arbiters of style. He and Karl Lagerfeld were "the best of friends" which explains why, for example, in the late 1990s, having Chanel anything was a huge deal and why Lagerfeld's awfullness was not just tolerated but celebrated. Karl was a monster, and something Andre Leon Talley apparently only recognized after Karl stopped speaking to him, but a lot of The Chiffon Trenches is Andre explaining how and why he didn't realize how awful people like Karl or Anna could be. There is a fair amount of fashion gossip in this, but most of it is about people who no longer matter (Galliano) or who are dead. The anger I'd expected him to have towards Anna is tempered with the obvious longing he has to go back--back to when what he said mattered to the world of fashion, back to the days when his entire life was expensed, to when he could fly to Paris one day, stay for three weeks, return to New York and do it all over again. And yes, he is now aware that he lived in a gilded cage, even as one senses he misses the material trappings. I found The Chiffon Trenches to be just like Andre's old Vogue columns--there's beautiful descriptions of gorgeous things, enough bitchy and dishy commentary to keep you hooked, and, sadly (for me) a lot of explaining away difficult or stupid behavior as "but then, it's only/just fashion." Which, of course, is something one can say, but it glides over what's underneath, which is a lot of ugliness, and ignoring it doesn't and can't make it disappear. We live in a world that is changing fast and demanding more and better changes still. Andre's lack of activism is disappointing but his legacy in/to fashion will be reckoned with for years to come. He will matter more than Anna (who I think has overstayed her time, who now only matters for what seems meaningless (Met Gala, cough)) ever did or will. And he should, because he loves and lives for fashion. And Anna Wintour, by his own admission, doesn't. She cares about power and though she's trying to fight it, her reign is over. And Andre is still here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ary Chest

    It was nice, afternoon read, but, sadly to say, nothing in this will resonate with me. I noticed a lot of book critics' frustration with the lack of activism in this book. It seems many think Mr. Talley would be the perfect candidate for that kind of literature; a kind of fashionista Maya Angelou. I hate when reviewers do that. He has no obligation to produce that kind of perspective, because of his race. Yet, I did still find plenty of frustration about the perspective he did choose, or lack th It was nice, afternoon read, but, sadly to say, nothing in this will resonate with me. I noticed a lot of book critics' frustration with the lack of activism in this book. It seems many think Mr. Talley would be the perfect candidate for that kind of literature; a kind of fashionista Maya Angelou. I hate when reviewers do that. He has no obligation to produce that kind of perspective, because of his race. Yet, I did still find plenty of frustration about the perspective he did choose, or lack thereof. This memoir is more Chiffon than Trenches. It's very frothy, despite Mr. Talley being right in the middle of many pivotal moments in the global fashion industry. I didn't learn anything I didn't already know or could've easily gotten from other books that are more engaging. This is my third book by a major Vogue employee. The others are by Grace Coddington and Grace Mirabella, who make an appearance in here, too. There are probably more books I read by lesser important Vogue employees or people who have / had tied to Vogue. I kept comparing this to Grace Mirbella's In and Out of Vogue, and wondered how much I should talk about the other editor's book in comparison. Because Mirabella has a presence in Mr. Talley's book, I feel better about comparing the two. Grace Mirabella wrote a memoir that brought her editor's eye to the reader. I could feel what it was like to be in her head, while she was at Vogue. She explained her decisions so well. She provided her views on fashion, other people's views on fashion, and the general direction the industry was going, and the eccentric moments those shifts produced. It was thrilling to read, even during chapters on the sad parts of her life. It takes guts to write something like 'The 80's were not my time,' referring to the end of her tenure as the editor in chief. But, with Mr. Talley, you know where we went, and who he met, and what jobs he had, but not much else. Key figures in the industry obviously recognized his eye for aesthetics. But what about the famous "eye" is so great gets left out. And that's only the beginning. In fact, it was hard to figure his opinions on anything. Here's an example that kept coming to mind. Andre knew Yves Saint Laurant, Oscar de la Renta, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, and any more. They all had partners they threw parties with and invited many other famous people. Did it ever occur to Mr. Talley to explain how these people got away with openly homosexual relationships in the 70's? What about the fashion industry at the time made this permissible? In fact, there's so much he describes about the world of magazines from that era that wouldn't seem conceivable today. High fashion in the 70's and 80's wasn't only ultra-glamorous, but also reckless. There were no boundaries between journalists and fashion designers. They were all friends, and no one seems to think about how this makes for biased coverage. WWD editors like John Fairchild uses his magazine to tear down careers for the sake of personal Vendetta. How does no one have a problem with this? It was a media free-for-all that had no consequences to the people responsible for such a big influence. Even for a tell-all, it was rather cold. Oddly enough, the name dropping was the best part, which is usually the most annoying thing about these kinds of stories. Because he kept the same friends for a good chunk of his life, I got to read about all the famous names throughout the decades, and saw how they matured. Who knew, Lagerfeld, who was mainly known for reviving the stuffy Chanel brand was, at one time, daring and wacky, at Chloe? Going back to Grace Mirabella, through a lot about her accounts of Vogue life match Mr. Talley's, they do seem to have differing views. A lot of this is speculation, because, as I said before, Mr. Talley isn't very good at giving his views. From Mirabella's perspective, Anna Wintour was shoved on her without rhyme or reason and she had no "real use." Mr. Talley explains how Anna played the Vogue game under Mirabella, and how Anna used her contrasting personality to overthrow her boss. Surprisingly, the way Mr. Talley describes Mirabella running Vogue matches how Mirabella described herself, which goes to show how good Mirabella is at reflecting on herself. Mirabella was calculated, meticulous, and hypercritical. To my shock, Wintour let creativity roam free. It seems she was better and spotting and training great talent than setting trends herself. Though Icy, she definitely cared about nurturing long-lasting careers for the talented. Props, Wintour! Mr. Talley, obviously, falls into the school of Wintour. What he preferred about her way of steering the Vogue ship I wish he went into better. Ultimately, the reason he had such a long-lasting career is he was such a good friend to so many people and knew how to get a job done. But his book doesn't make me feel any of the closeness that got him so far.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danna

    I was actually disappointed. The word that comes to mind is shallow. It reads like a love letter to people who were good to him financially or emotionally and a pissy gram to those who did him wrong. I wish he would have dug deeper and delivered more than gossip and evidence of his own importance never having received its proper due. His inability to deal with his own issues is glaring. He ignores or offhandedly dismisses the effect his weight and lack of mobility might have had on his position I was actually disappointed. The word that comes to mind is shallow. It reads like a love letter to people who were good to him financially or emotionally and a pissy gram to those who did him wrong. I wish he would have dug deeper and delivered more than gossip and evidence of his own importance never having received its proper due. His inability to deal with his own issues is glaring. He ignores or offhandedly dismisses the effect his weight and lack of mobility might have had on his position in an industry that is based on appearance. He admits he has never dealt with his own youthful trauma or his admitted issues with his own sexuality or his feelings about his treatment by the fashion industry. He relays facts but with little commentary or analysis about how the slights made him feel or the effects on his life or career. I feel like he is a fantastic friend to those who are rich and good to him but just as bad as those he criticizes when dealing with those who are beneath him on the social ladder. I do admire his championing of others of color in the industry—at least those who met his standards, or were on his level, or were willing to pay for his expertise. While he wants to make sure we all appreciate his importance to the fashion industry’s past, he doesn’t appear to care much about the future other than continuing his friendships with the world’s top designer (to keep the freebies rolling as well as continuing his career). Who will take his place? He doesn’t appear to have taken anyone under his wing or have mentored anyone. He doesn’t mention any protégés or gifted students he has tutored. The only young person he talks about is an LA Style editor whom he liked because of the way he dressed and his openness about his sexuality. I opened it ready to be dazzled by his career and insights but finished feeling sad. He has lived an outwardly fabulous life and will leave behind a apartment full of fabulous furniture and things and bespoke shoes and suits and caftans. But so what. He had the opportunity to do so much more. To be so much more to students of color who wanted fashion careers. He’ll have a fabulous funeral full of all of the fabulous fashion folk. And then his stuff will be sold at auction. I wanted so much more.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    ALT's memoir is a courtier's diary of late 20th and early 20th-century high fashion. An insider who is nevertheless always acutely aware of his position at court, as well as his humble roots, Talley provides a double (triple? quadruple?)-consciousness perspective on this exclusive, tiny, and high-flown world ruled entirely by taste that absolutely no one else could provide. Essential fashion, publishing, and North Carolina history. Also, the sentence "My favorite retreat was the city library in ALT's memoir is a courtier's diary of late 20th and early 20th-century high fashion. An insider who is nevertheless always acutely aware of his position at court, as well as his humble roots, Talley provides a double (triple? quadruple?)-consciousness perspective on this exclusive, tiny, and high-flown world ruled entirely by taste that absolutely no one else could provide. Essential fashion, publishing, and North Carolina history. Also, the sentence "My favorite retreat was the city library in downtown Durham, North Carolina" pierced my heart, as somebody who worked there with hundreds of beautiful, creative, and fierce kids like ALT.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    You know that axiom, 'if you've got nothing good to say about someone then say nothing'? Seems like ALT has internalised it. Which may be very good for his soul but it makes this book duller that I expected. It's not so much chiffon 'trenches', as chiffon cosy-up-together-on the frow. ALT has had an amazing career and he seems to know everyone in the fashion/social world. His love of style and clothes comes over as absolutely genuine - but it's quite hard to get a handle on his life and career f You know that axiom, 'if you've got nothing good to say about someone then say nothing'? Seems like ALT has internalised it. Which may be very good for his soul but it makes this book duller that I expected. It's not so much chiffon 'trenches', as chiffon cosy-up-together-on the frow. ALT has had an amazing career and he seems to know everyone in the fashion/social world. His love of style and clothes comes over as absolutely genuine - but it's quite hard to get a handle on his life and career from this book. And that's partly because he withholds. Ok, there's no rule that says he *must* dish the dirt - but the constant stream of how wonderful *everyone* is and what good friends they are (up until the point at which they ditch him...) doesn't make for the best reading. After the early years, it's quite hard to even get a handle on what ALT's actual job is: he flits around with Anna Wintour (till she cuts him dead) and seems to socialise full time. There are brief mentions of the abuse which stifled his ability to have healthy sexual relationships and his toxic relationship with food, but even these painful revelations are submerged beneath a kind of thankfulness that he's had such a glorious life. I'd love to read a biography of ALT - this is fun but it feels distinctly like there's another story there just waiting to be told.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Mostly this made me sad. Sad for Talley who seems deeply unhappy, but also sad for all the people whose mistreatment he alludes to. Review to come.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon L.

    4 stars. I loved this book. Although it’s been described as a fashion world “tell all,” I think it’s far more than that. A keenly described and often tragic look at the fashion industry from a man who rose to its highest heights only to be cast out when he got older and heavier. A beautifully written memoir that affected me more than I expected.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    For a light read, there was a lot in this book. A poignant history of ALT’s early life, his triumphs, his friendships, his traumas and heck of a lot of name-dropping. But it’s hard to find obnoxious a man who so plainly and clearly wants the love he thinks he deserves. An endearing read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This was a light yet highly enjoyable read. I know how knowledgeable and revered ALT is amongst his peers, but didn't know any of the background of how this came to be or how truly admired he is amid notable fashion icons most of which are lifelong friends. Reading about his forty year friendship with Lagerfeld was truly fascinating as I didn't know about it previously. If you are intrigued by or engrossed with the fashion industry, there are some fantastic stories within these pages. A dazzling This was a light yet highly enjoyable read. I know how knowledgeable and revered ALT is amongst his peers, but didn't know any of the background of how this came to be or how truly admired he is amid notable fashion icons most of which are lifelong friends. Reading about his forty year friendship with Lagerfeld was truly fascinating as I didn't know about it previously. If you are intrigued by or engrossed with the fashion industry, there are some fantastic stories within these pages. A dazzling insider view of some of the most synonymous names in fashion. As well as great commentary on the current world of fashion (which I hadn't considered before) and the 'use and abuse' culture of fashion print media.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angelique

    I received a copy of The Chiffon Trenches by Andre' Leon Talley from the author/publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not required to write a positive review. This is Andre's story of his time as a fashion trailblazer. He gives meticulous details of his time with both designers and models who set the tone for today's fashion iconic brands. He is transparent and emotional in the telling of how a kid from the south transcended race and class to hobnob with the upper e I received a copy of The Chiffon Trenches by Andre' Leon Talley from the author/publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not required to write a positive review. This is Andre's story of his time as a fashion trailblazer. He gives meticulous details of his time with both designers and models who set the tone for today's fashion iconic brands. He is transparent and emotional in the telling of how a kid from the south transcended race and class to hobnob with the upper echelon of high fashion. From Yves Saint Laurent to Tom Ford he gives insight into the different demons that these artistic talents ran from. Andre is a sensitive soul who wanted to create a world that he would feel safe in. Fashion gave him that. Rubbing shoulders with others who accepted him as he was bolstered his confidence allowing him to reach the highest rank possible in that world. My favorite part of the book was the love he had for the women who took the time to instill in him self worth and self assurance. Not allowing his childhood trauma to hinder him or reject loving relationships is exemplary and admirable. I am glad I read this book. I learned about an African American man who is still influential socially and fashionably. I am more aware of the people behind the brands and have more respect for what they had to go through to get to where they are.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Gabriele

    It's all here, what is wrong with the fashion industry, the racism, the sociopathy, the narcissism, the sheer decadence. BUT there is also an incredible story of one man's triumph in an impossible arena not built for him. What an incredible story. I loved this book and this man.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I LOVED this book. I was worried it would be the same stuff that was in the documentary, but it’s so much more. The book does a good job of giving you all the details behind the stuff that was in the documentary. There is so much more to all of his stories. This book is for everyone who loves fashion, 90s fashion, Vogue, and of course, Anna Wintour. CW: disordered eating ** He does talk about his weight, weight loss, gastric bypass surgery, and “food addiction”. Those are triggering topics for a I LOVED this book. I was worried it would be the same stuff that was in the documentary, but it’s so much more. The book does a good job of giving you all the details behind the stuff that was in the documentary. There is so much more to all of his stories. This book is for everyone who loves fashion, 90s fashion, Vogue, and of course, Anna Wintour. CW: disordered eating ** He does talk about his weight, weight loss, gastric bypass surgery, and “food addiction”. Those are triggering topics for a lot of us. So just know that’s in there. The bulk of this is in Chapter 12, just FYI.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Latiffany

    I didn’t plan to read this book. Prior to ordering it, I was only slightly aware of Andre Leon Talley. Recently, I was working out while listening to a podcast and the host mentioned this title. She spoke of the criticism that the book received and mentioned that reviewers found Talley to lack self awareness. The host was thoroughly impressed with Talley and eager to read the book and form her own opinion, so I decided that I would read The Chiffon Trenches as well. As evidenced by the 5 stars, I I didn’t plan to read this book. Prior to ordering it, I was only slightly aware of Andre Leon Talley. Recently, I was working out while listening to a podcast and the host mentioned this title. She spoke of the criticism that the book received and mentioned that reviewers found Talley to lack self awareness. The host was thoroughly impressed with Talley and eager to read the book and form her own opinion, so I decided that I would read The Chiffon Trenches as well. As evidenced by the 5 stars, I enjoyed it. I read this book in 2-3 days. I went into it biased, but as I kept reading I realized that Talley is aware of who he is and what he meant and still means to the fashion industry. He’s very much aware of what other people thought of him and he does not seem to care. Talley is confident in his knowledge and ability. He is aware of the lack of diversity in the fashion industry and is not afraid to speak about it. He’s enjoyed long friendships with his peers. This man was not a pet or token black friend for white designers. According to him, these people were his friends and he loved and cared deeply for them. I opened this book expecting to feel dismay for a man that failed to authentically see himself and his place in the world. Shame on me. I closed this book inspired by Talley’s knowledge, elegance, social grace, faith and desire to love and be of service to others. Don’t believe everything you hear. Read this book. It’s worth it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I wanted to love this book. ALT is a fashion legend and truly talented and original. I thought we would get a glimpse at the substance under the enormous capes and coats. Nope, it is a bitter, sad, lonely book focused on the lost relationships he had with Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. Sadly, everyone already knew both were cold, judge mental, and kind of mean, so nothing new here. If you’ve read the press release blurbs, you know he says Wintour isn’t capable of love/feelings. Well, again, not I wanted to love this book. ALT is a fashion legend and truly talented and original. I thought we would get a glimpse at the substance under the enormous capes and coats. Nope, it is a bitter, sad, lonely book focused on the lost relationships he had with Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. Sadly, everyone already knew both were cold, judge mental, and kind of mean, so nothing new here. If you’ve read the press release blurbs, you know he says Wintour isn’t capable of love/feelings. Well, again, not a surprise. Karl was a crazy mean dude who dropped people from his life without explanation: um, he’s been called the Kaiser for years. Not exactly a warm and fuzzy term of endearment. The book is at its best when Mr. Talley puts fashion in historic perspective. It is at its worst when he laundry lists what people wore. Yes, this is a fashion book, but I wanted more. He touches on trauma, hard emotional scars, his weight (which he seems deeply ashamed of), and his race, but these are barely covered. It feels more like a bitch session than a memoir. I don’t believe for a minute he didn’t feel more about being the only black man in the room. His ability to connect emotionally could made this an important topic, instead he brushes the edges and moves on. The bulk, and most disappointing parts, are the old people are discarded by the fashion industry without ceremony rants. Um, welcome to Capitalism, 20th Century America, and the Fashion Industry in general. When you were young and starting out, did you notice any old people in the office? You sure don’t mention it. So why so bitter about young people today getting jobs (at lower salaries...like the no salary volunteer project you got to do with Vreeland at the Met....don’t think there was an older person with more experience and at least equal knowledge? I do)? The level of bitterness, anger, and shame makes this a really sad read. This is a man whose knowledge, style, and life are astoundingly bright and beautiful. It was very sad to find out he is angry, old, bitter, and largely alone.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jana - The Completist

    I adore ALT and this book is really timely at the moment.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kirstin Chen

    a deeply flawed book....and yet I relished every page.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Let me start this review by saying that I think Andre Leon Talley has style and aplomb. His achievements in fashion and the fact that he paved the way for many people of color in the fashion industry are incredibly important. BUT. This book just made me sad. It reads like a hyper materialistic social climbing high school girl’s diary. His sycophantic relationships with Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld (and others) are exceedingly cringeworthy and hard to read. On one page, he writes about how he Let me start this review by saying that I think Andre Leon Talley has style and aplomb. His achievements in fashion and the fact that he paved the way for many people of color in the fashion industry are incredibly important. BUT. This book just made me sad. It reads like a hyper materialistic social climbing high school girl’s diary. His sycophantic relationships with Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld (and others) are exceedingly cringeworthy and hard to read. On one page, he writes about how he is best soul friends with a very important person in fashion and their confidant, details the very expensive gifts he buys for them and then a few pages later, they freeze him out and act like he doesn’t exist. But he still claims they are true and dear friends. I was also embarrassed for him at the fact that he mentions sweated and obsessed over an invitation to Lee Radziwill’s funeral (who freaks out over a funeral invite other than a self obsessed boob?) for days and then acted like he won the lottery when he was indeed invited. In the end, I feel sorry for him. He had/has zero boundaries between his work and his personal life, gave his time, health and intelligence to people and a company who cared nothing for him and is very lonely.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kici Cofield

    I’m not sure how anyone could’ve rated this book below a 5. It was perfect in every aspect. It details career of André Talley and leaves no stones unturned. Though there has been a lot of PR about what he’s written about Anna Wintour, I would say that she’s only about 10% of what this book is. André talks in great detail about the numerous friendships he’s held with famous fashion designers, models, & affluent folk. He shares his experience of being a Black man during times when there was little I’m not sure how anyone could’ve rated this book below a 5. It was perfect in every aspect. It details career of André Talley and leaves no stones unturned. Though there has been a lot of PR about what he’s written about Anna Wintour, I would say that she’s only about 10% of what this book is. André talks in great detail about the numerous friendships he’s held with famous fashion designers, models, & affluent folk. He shares his experience of being a Black man during times when there was little to no diversity in the fashion industry. I want people to give him his flowers now because this was one hell of a book and I am not even really into fashion. Bravo!

  20. 4 out of 5

    blisster

    I did not read his first memoir, ALT, and would be hard pressed to read two, but this I enjoyed, like a package of Twinkies. It’s edible because it’s the best junk, basically. I sped read through the first half, and the second half I slowed down. After a while, the clipped writing style dragged the drama, and some of the personal observations became repetitive, particularly around his long term relationships with Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfield. Any Vogue drama was frequently diplomatic and rea I did not read his first memoir, ALT, and would be hard pressed to read two, but this I enjoyed, like a package of Twinkies. It’s edible because it’s the best junk, basically. I sped read through the first half, and the second half I slowed down. After a while, the clipped writing style dragged the drama, and some of the personal observations became repetitive, particularly around his long term relationships with Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfield. Any Vogue drama was frequently diplomatic and read like a Wikipedia page for a TV show’s episodes. He does have interesting takes on his childhood, faith, and the enormity of what he has accomplished and experienced as an African American male with a stunning decades-long career in the fashion industry. I think by his own admission he is not as self-reflective as he could be- as a person but certainly as a memoirist! This makes most observations about race pretty shallow, in that from his vantage point he could navigate way more depth than his memoir explores. But it was a fun and easy read for someone wanting to shake up her quarantine reading list, I def recommend if you’re at all interested in his life and world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daisy Dead

    Some RELATIVELY lighter faire for me, but so far, about halfway in, it’s been a dive into race, class, and sexuality in the high fashion/art world in the US and Europe from the 1960’s to today. His window into that world definitely has a fun fabulous looky-loo vibe (Warhol! Wintour! Lagerfeld! Paloma! Manolo! The silks and cashmeres and couture! The parties!), but his experiences also have me thinking about the tensions of journalism in general. The tightrope they walk and the pressures between Some RELATIVELY lighter faire for me, but so far, about halfway in, it’s been a dive into race, class, and sexuality in the high fashion/art world in the US and Europe from the 1960’s to today. His window into that world definitely has a fun fabulous looky-loo vibe (Warhol! Wintour! Lagerfeld! Paloma! Manolo! The silks and cashmeres and couture! The parties!), but his experiences also have me thinking about the tensions of journalism in general. The tightrope they walk and the pressures between their subjects, their audiences, and their bosses. And how fashion journalism also functions as an eye on the Uber-wealthy. It elevates them in one way, but in another it exposes them and their excesses. A great read. I’ve seen criticism that he doesn’t go deep enough into the race, class, or sexuality stuff, which okay true this book isn’t explicitly about that, but he talks about these things quite a bit. No, he doesn’t philosophize or unpack a lot of it, he simply reports what happened to him, how he felt and still feels about it, and how he dealt with it at the time. But he certainly does not ignore any of these factors. He was an odd duck in North Carolina for one reason, and he was an odd duck in Paris for other reasons, and welcomed with open arms in NYC for all those same reasons. It’s a little bit of history from one man. I don’t think it’s up to him to break it all down; it’s up to us to take this info and learn from it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Megan Bodie

    Andre Leon Talley is a fashion icon and this memoir goes through his entire career in fashion or "The Chiffon Trenches." This is certainly not a primer or introduction to the fashion world but rather a behind the curtain. He mentions names quickly and at times with little context, and there are certainly stories about everyone. While there is plenty of glamour in this book, it left me feeling a little sad and angry on behalf of Andre Leon Talley. He ultimately was cast aside and devalued by his Andre Leon Talley is a fashion icon and this memoir goes through his entire career in fashion or "The Chiffon Trenches." This is certainly not a primer or introduction to the fashion world but rather a behind the curtain. He mentions names quickly and at times with little context, and there are certainly stories about everyone. While there is plenty of glamour in this book, it left me feeling a little sad and angry on behalf of Andre Leon Talley. He ultimately was cast aside and devalued by his colleagues, but still feels loyal to those institutions even though the financial and personal cost has been great...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brei

    Andre has been an inspiration of mine ever since I was little. I have traveled to some of the most amazing places on earth through Andre's eyes. He speaks freely about growing up in the South and about abuse. He speaks about racism in the fashion industry. He also speaks about the relationships he has/had with Fashions heavy hitters. I highly recommend this book especially if you love fashion. I think you would really enjoy listening to this one because Andre narrates the audiobook.

  24. 5 out of 5

    rebecca O. webber

    Hardcover. I was expecting to be dazzled by this book, but was disappointed. I would use shallow to describe it and many of the characters were just that—shallow. Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour were/are just plain monsters. The best parts of the book were ATL’s roots in the south and how his family shaped him. His amazing story of getting into Brown, getting a Masters and then becoming a huge success in the fashion industry. I got tired of the name dropping and the truly awful people who make u Hardcover. I was expecting to be dazzled by this book, but was disappointed. I would use shallow to describe it and many of the characters were just that—shallow. Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour were/are just plain monsters. The best parts of the book were ATL’s roots in the south and how his family shaped him. His amazing story of getting into Brown, getting a Masters and then becoming a huge success in the fashion industry. I got tired of the name dropping and the truly awful people who make up the fashion industry.

  25. 4 out of 5

    LeeTravelGoddess

    wonderful, gorgeous, light bearing book... I mean, IT'S UNCLE TALLEY!!! I did not want the book to end honey and now i am intrigued all over again with fashion... Imagine, being the highest on the fashion totem pole and a black man is behind it all; HA! I feel like I read his memoir but I have added it to my to-read list, cause its UNCLE TALLEY! I love this man & I wish that one of these days he experiences something to call his own. It's a tops! wonderful, gorgeous, light bearing book... I mean, IT'S UNCLE TALLEY!!! I did not want the book to end honey and now i am intrigued all over again with fashion... Imagine, being the highest on the fashion totem pole and a black man is behind it all; HA! I feel like I read his memoir but I have added it to my to-read list, cause its UNCLE TALLEY! I love this man & I wish that one of these days he experiences something to call his own. It's a tops!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lyza Jo

    I couldn't get myself past page 100. I felt like I was reading one big name drop. Nothing really happened; it was just as who's who list followed by what they were wearing. I wanted more narrative, more drama, more insight.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    André Leon Talley's writing ability is marvelous. This is a love letter to fashion and all the sacrifices he's made to it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Keshia

    Was matter of fact. Wanted more passion, more opinions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    I love ALT and so it was delightful to read all of his fashion genius and experiences.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Phoebe (readandwright) Wright

    I have always been fascinated by Andre Leon Talley and greatly enjoyed learning more about him. He has been a trailblazer in his field.

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