Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:33 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 1:50 pm
Posts: 3654
Location: California/NYC
Image

The Kofi Annan of what you got on

André Leon Talley is a tall, dramatic black man from Durham, South Carolina who happens to be one of the leading fashion editors and fashion personalities of the past forty years. He is grand, but came from poverty, raised by his severe, protective grandmother for whom Sunday church was the essential ritual, who worked as a domestic cleaner at Duke University. At Sunday church, everyone dressed in their finest, the beginning of his appreciation of style. He is important, knowledgable and smart, and flamboyant or not, very serious, and he has done great work for multiple venues as a fashion editor. He is quite simply a regal African American public figure, who knows everybody and goes everywhere. This film is about him.

It must be admitted that André Leon Talley may have deserved a more searching and thorough documentary than this. But he is worth knowing about under any circumstance, from whatever source, and even if somewhat superficially. This film has the benefit of great archival footage, narrated by the master himself. His is contemporary, robed and caped, presence and voice are threaded all through the film. What there is to be learned about him in this film, for anybody interested in fashion, and the times, is in itself fabulous. With this reservation, that Novack might have delved deeper into the personal life beyond the celebrities, general knowledge, and facade, nonetheless Talley is a wonderful character, and Novack's documentary supplies a generous slice of him and the wide world he has inhabited.

He was always flamboyant, schoolmates report. Amusingly, it was the - also flamboyant - Julia Child who first awakened him to the sound of French, which became his favorite academic subject. Eventually he went north and obtained a masters degree in French at Brown, and intended to teach the language. Apart from his fluency in French and knowledge of French literature, Talley's talk is literate and intelligent and laced with literary references. Note his special fashion interpretation of the line from Candide, "We must cultivate our garden," and that he was impressed early on by the panache of the English aristocrat Lady Ottoline Morrell. He did not teach French but he was to use it in Paris fashion week. Brown got him out of the Jim Crow South.

He came to New York in the Seventies, a renaissance decade for that city and for the fashion industry, and filtered (after a kind of apprenticeship with Diana Vreeland the Harper's Bazaar and Vogue editor and consultant at he at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) through Andy Warhol's Interview, like Fran Lebowitz. He danced every night at Studio 54, but, lived, Fran says, like a nun, steering clear of the drugs and the sex. (Lebowitz, interviewed, says in those days they viewed sex as "healthy, like orange juice.") He did not have time for a lasting relationship. His time and attention all went to the pursuit of a career. In that, he was very successful, fulfilled, and happy, earning many friends. Intimacy was one thing he lacked.

But he also went to Paris, and, speaking French, and being knowledgable and elegant and very tall, standing out as he did, he connected seriously with the biggest designers, even the most private and inaccessible including Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. Eventually he went to work at Vogue, and from then on he was an icon. This movie is mostly about the icon, with some serious revisits to him revisiting his past, and even a visit to his efforts to deal with his weight problem.

What is most personal is the information about how he pursued recognition of black people in the magazine, and how some applied black stereotypes to him like being a "black buck" (when he was asexual) and someone a Yves Saint Laurent referred to him behind his back as "Queen Kong." When he speaks of these things he is deeply wounded. Mostly, though, André Leon Talley is a buoyant figure, who celebrates the positive and is never at a loss for words. When he is given a mysterious box, he doesn't call it a box, but "a metrosexual gym bag," and these descriptions come to him in an instant. He is impressive, and this is an enjoyable film, many of whose moments focused on times and people seem too brief.

The Gospel According to André, 94 mins., debuted at Toronto and showed also at Amsterdam, Palm Springs, CPH:DOX, and River Run. It opened in US theaters 25 May and is showing in New York at Angelika and City Cinemas Beekman Theater.

_________________
©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group