André Leon Talley was at the Fashion Institute of Technology last night to talk with Valerie Steele as part of the The Museum at FIT's Fashion Culture series. A crowd of more than 300 stood in long lines and were require to pass through metal detectors, which were on site due to the presence of PETA activists. To the audience of fans and fashion-lovers, Talley did not disappoint. He had the crowd laughing out loud for most of the talk.
Peppered between stories of his days assisting Diana Vreelend while she organized the Met's Costume Institute ("I treated her office like walking into the Vatican") to his days working in Andy Warhol's Factory as Interview's receptionist ("I answered phones and picked up Mr. Warhol's lunch), Talley shared plans to return to America's Next Top Model. Calling Tyra Banks, "a fabulous business woman," the Vogue contributor explained he coined the word 'drekitude' while watching Rachel Maddow repeat 'quackitude' on her MSNBC show and thinking of the German word for garbage, drek. As for next season, Talley promises there will be a new 'tude in his arsenal.
As an only child from a modest family in Durham, North Carolina, Talley is quick to admit he owes much of his success to the help and encouragement of more-established members of the fashion community, but is just as fast to add, "I've slept in many designers' beds, but never with a designer—male or female." Talley is in return committed to helping out the younger generation, calling attention throughout the talk to new designers in the audience and one in particular. The crystallized NAACP tee shirt he wore under his white Chado Ralph Rucci cape to the Met earlier this week was designed by a man he found selling Obama hats out of the trunk of his car in Harlem. He bought 48.
In terms of future plans, the editor and now television star would like to hit the Broadway (or off-Broaway) stage and says he has been working for years on a one-man show. We're certain his adoring fans (including us) will be happy to fill those seats.