Reviews for The Chiffon Trenches

by André Leon Talley

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The inimitable fashion veteran shares the scandals and name-dropping details of his sartorial career. Readers of Talley’s debut memoir, A.L.T. (2003), will recognize the details of his Southern childhood and his grandmother’s significant influence. Moving further forward in this volume, he delves into his later years and dishes the dirt on his many years at Vogue. In a conversational and earnest voice, the author chronicles his defining years learning under Diana Vreeland, who got him into “all the right parties,” and his time at Interview magazine with an accommodating Andy Warhol. From there, Talley ascended to positions at Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue, his “dream job,” where he would spend decades weathering a “series of voyages” within a tumultuous business (and personal) relationship with the demanding and mercurial Anna Wintour. Other relationships were similarly tumultuous and unpredictable, including his four-decade friendship with Karl Lagerfeld, which instantly and cruelly dissolved when Lagerfeld simply “cut [Talley] out of his life.” The author’s writing becomes more animated when he describes more personal details—e.g., his coming-of-age on the New York party circuit in the halcyon late 1970s, when “everyone was high on coke and cock”; or his vulnerability regarding his weight and self-worth. Talley too-fleetingly addresses the sobering reality of the “subtle, casual jabs” of racism that he has experienced throughout his career. He does note how many editors with whom he worked failed to understand his perspective as a black professional in a predominantly white field or appreciate the cultural significance of events such as Beyoncé’s gracing the cover of Vogue in 2018. Though the text brims with gossipy anecdotes, Talley mixes the serious and the saucy with equal heft. Though his legacy speaks for itself, this balanced, entertaining memoir is dramatic proof in print. A heartfelt and often eyebrow-raising memoir perfect for armchair fashionistas or high-fashion insiders. (8-page full-color insert; b/w photos throughout) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In his second memoir, with unguarded style, fashion journalist and curator Talley (A.L.T., 2003) details his historic and varied career. He moves mostly chronologically through a dizzying who's-who of the last half century in fashion, marking major breaks under Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute, at Andy Warhol's Interview, and, eventually, with Anna Wintour at Vogue's helm. Shying from neither painful complications nor boundless praise, in turn, Talley opens up about his significant relationships with these mentors and friends and others, including Karl Lagerfeld and Lee Radziwell, to whom the book is dedicated. With great vulnerability, he also shares his longtime battle with weight, experiences of racism, and childhood trauma that led to struggles with romance. Draping difficulty in the title's chiffon, Talley describes splendid fashions (including his own trademark caftans) with vibrant specificity, and often relates being positively starstruck by the work and worlds he moves in, like the time he escorted Beyoncé into the Met Gala. Black-and-white photos dot the text, and finished books will include a glossy photo insert.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In his second memoir, with unguarded style, fashion journalist and curator Talley (A.L.T., 2003) details his historic and varied career. He moves mostly chronologically through a dizzying who's-who of the last half century in fashion, marking major breaks under Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute, at Andy Warhol's Interview, and, eventually, with Anna Wintour at Vogue's helm. Shying from neither painful complications nor boundless praise, in turn, Talley opens up about his significant relationships with these mentors and friends and others, including Karl Lagerfeld and Lee Radziwell, to whom the book is dedicated. With great vulnerability, he also shares his longtime battle with weight, experiences of racism, and childhood trauma that led to struggles with romance. Draping difficulty in the title's chiffon, Talley describes splendid fashions (including his own trademark caftans) with vibrant specificity, and often relates being positively starstruck by the work and worlds he moves in, like the time he escorted Beyoncé into the Met Gala. Black-and-white photos dot the text, and finished books will include a glossy photo insert.

Back