Renowned writer, editor and bastion of fabulousness, André Leon Talley recently opened a gallery bearing his name at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s new museum. ALT has long known how to make an entrance and his debut exhibition, “High Style,” was no exception. There were lust worthy pieces from all the fashion names you know by heart and, of course, a long, effortlessly glamorous sequined wrap dress from DVF.
Here, Inside DVF catches up with ALT on the opening, what’s next, and why Beyond Diva black is the new black.
Inside DVF: In the Vogue piece, you describe how Diana Vreeland taught you how to create a narrative and diorama; a fictional moment through clothes. Can you describe the story you were hoping to tell with the opening?
André Leon Talley: I decided to create the narrative, in the abstract, of course, with these beautiful evening clothes by Oscar de la Renta (a great friend of DVF and yours truly), Miuccia Prada, Tom Ford, Zac Posen, and Karl Lagerfeld’s incredible Franz Xavier Winterhalter-inspired strapless.
The finale powder room scene at the Casino Roof, in George Cukor’s classic comedy, The Women, was my inspiration for the entire exhibit. It is a film I must have watched up to fifty times, on my plasma screen. It is the sum total of Adrian’s brilliance in the Golden Age, of Hollywood Design. In fact, the first show I ever volunteered and worked under the direction of Diana Vreeland, was Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design: 1974.
I wanted every single designer who had come to SCAD to be dramatically in the realm of the glamorous room, with all the gorgeous mirrored furniture and a great portrait of Lady Strickland, by Sir Peter Lely, painted in 1659. He was a court painter and Lady Strickland is wearing a duchess satin dress, the fabric of couture.
DVF: Was there a process by which you chose the dresses to be included, or was it an emotional response “yes” or “no” to pieces you considered? Was there anything you fought particularly hard to include?
ALT: Well, the Karl Lagerfeld, that was a dress in the closet of my great friend, the art patron, Sao Schlumberger. I went to so many fittings at Chanel with Sao when I lived in Paris, so this was a special moment for me. How did that dress get to SCAD from Sao’s closet? Before she died, she sold it to Lily Et Cie, the vintage emporium on Burton Way in Los Angeles. I rang up my friend, Pat Altschul who bought it, had it altered to fit her measurements, and we went to the Chanel exhibit, in 2005, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was only fitting.
DVF: What drew you to the DVF black sequined wrap dress?
ALT: I had a choice of a DVF glamazon wrap in sequins in three colors, dazzling blue, Hollywood platinum gold, and BD black. That’s Beyond Diva black. After a discussion with DVF by telephone from her country retreat, we both felt black would be the instant classic and pop in the gallery. We were right. It’s so outstanding.
DVF: DVF is big on mantras. Do you have any favorite words to live by? Fashion or otherwise?
ALT: When I wake up in the morning, I think Live in Love, and the zones all come together.
DVF: What’s next?
ALT: President Paula Wallace is so thrilled with the success of “High Style” that she has already approved my next exhibit, which goes up early 2012, LBD, or the Little Black Dress. Expect the unexpected!